"We feared that you might commit suicide, but you are strong enough" he released mysterythat was hunting me from so many days "All these happened to you as reaction of the action you took four years back".
On October 19, 2003, I got a letter from head office saying my service was terminated; no reason was given for my termination from the office where I worked for six years. Some days back, then Assistant Executive Officer of Kathmandu Metropolis suggested that I should talk to then Mayor as he was insisting about my termination. I didn't believe at first, still I tried to call Mayor, went to his office but he didn't give me time to talk. I didn't have any clue what I did to offend the newly re-instilled Mayor. My family asked me why this happened but I didn't have any answers. The next day there was front-page news in one daily newspaper of Nepal-bhasa saying that the Mayor expelled the corrupted officer mentioning my name. The news was a disaster to me and my family; we got numerous calls from relatives and friends. My father is well-known writer in Nepal-bhasa. One can imagine how much we suffered then. The injustice didn’t stop there, each day the story on my character, my termination published in small, big weekly newspapers. I was quite active in my community but suddenly my neighborhood, my city became alien to me. Some suggested resorting to legal measures,other suggested going to Prime Minister, even to then King but I was just shocked and had no willto go anywhere. In my 6 years of working tenure in Kathmandu Metropolis, there were hundreds of illicit financial offers made to me but I refused them each time. And now I was being accused of corruption and was expelled, It appeared so easy to accuse and use media by powerful people. I thought "I refused to be one of the chains in departmental corruption; probably I was blocking the corruption flow that has to go throughmy position; so I was fired"
But the actual reason of termination unfold when I came to know from one of the Department head that it was as reaction for the action I did some 4 years back. Four years back, I got very attractive offer "to be the Department Head" and for which Mayor wanted to talk. Every Friday the Mayor used to call or come to my office saying he wanted to talk about my promotion. I said I could talk in his convenient time in his office, but he insisted talking on Saturdays as he was busy whole weekdays. I tried to overlook his offer saying I was busy in radio shows in Saturdays (I run 2 shows in radio on Saturdays then) but he wouldn'tstop. One day when I was about to go home after my radio show, I got a call at radio reception from Mayor saying he was waiting for me outside the radio, he wanted to discuss anurgent topic and wanted to go to a resort nearby and talk. That was enormous torture for me, I peeped out from the window, and showed his car was there at the other side of the road. That day I stayed in radio till late evening just waiting his car to go. I could not sleep that night; from around three months I was trying to ignore this issue, but that day's incident was too much. The next morning I went straight to Mayor's office, I waited till his visitors were gone then I said "Mr. Mayor, you have got me wrong. I am not a woman that I will go to resorts to be in this job. I will never trade myself for any kind of promotion." But he said he just wanted my promotion and wanted to spend some quality time with me. He is of age of my father, so how could he said he wanted to spend some quality time with me and I was working in temporary position, so it's ridicules that he wanted my promotion. Before also he tried to hold my hand, tried to touch me in ways I didn't like, andI tried to get away from such situations.He knew my father, knew my family's good name and financial standing, yet he dared to treat me like that all because I am a woman.
Afterwards, I tried never to enter his office alone. I was working as Acting Department Head of 'Heritage and Tourism Department' right from my inception. After our conversation, Mayor sent a superior to me; that was OK. I was working sincerely and nothing more happened for rest of the elected Mayor's tenure. Then the elected Mayor's termexpired, the government employee came as CEO cum Mayor. I was working hard whatever responsibilities given to me. In September 2013 the Mayor was reinstated directly by the appointment of then King.
After becoming Mayor for second tenure, he took the first official decision of my termination. I was expelled from the organization I worked so hard for six years. The Mayor took revenge because I refused to spend 'quality time' with him, because I refused to get sexually exploited. He could not harm me then in his elected tenure because many elected Ward Chairpersons knew me well including my work.
In such hard days, my family and my boyfriend stood by me, though I could never told them actual cause of my expel. Some gossiped I collected huge amounts from corruption so I was not ready to take legal action. I was unmarried then and I did not want the family of my boyfriend know about all these. I also could not believe that I wouldget justice through legal ways. I thought the mayor was so powerful that he could somehow present proof ofcorruption against me despite myinnocence, so I kept quite.
My mother used to say "pain is like salt, it helps you to expand". Some friends and neighbors humiliated me, ill-treatedme. It was not easy, but I didn't let my moral down. I taught in colleges and worked in radio, I kept myself busy but the thought kept coming that if I had to rely on that job only, if I was the only earning head in my family, then I would have probably been sexually exploited. Instead I was strong, I had options, my family's financial situation was good enough that I had courage to refuse that proposal, I was able to stand firmly on my ground. But there might be hundreds of women who had no options like mine.
There were numerous instances when I faced sexual harassmentfrom my male colleagues inside my office, in public places, in public transportation. So, I decided to do something against these. I wanted to stop any girl or woman from going through the sufferings I had to. I conceptualized an organization that will focus on preventing sexual violence and empowering women and girls against violence. I searched forways tostrengthenmy concept; met women activists, journalists and friends. In 2007, we established a women organization to work against gender violence. But unfortunately it didn't work anddeactivatedafter 2 years. I continued searching for like-minded friends to join this cause. I met martial artists to develop easy, practical, and effective way to defend against sexual violence. And in 2012, we finally got a team to start a neworganization called "Women Empowerment Nepal (WEN)". We met Maestro Edessa Ramos (International Security Expert and Self-defense Instructor) and she taught us self-defense skills along with her husband Robert. We registered the organization in January 2013 and in May 2013 organized first-ever self-defense workshop for women activists.We included martial artists in our self-defense core team and increased our capacities.
Since we began, WEN trained more than 2,000 women and girls through self-defense skills. We are the only organization which teaches self-defending skills to women and girls across the country. In three-hour session, we instill confidence in a woman/girl, a belief that she can defend herself. We aware people on different forms of violence and teach how self-defense can defend them from eve-teasing to rape and other life-threatening conditions. We teach women/girls to raise voice against any type of violence, equip them with knowledge on rights and legal literacy. Now organizations invite us to conductself-defense trainingand awareness classes. I am really happy to spread the life-skills we have learnt, andfeel fortunate that I am being able to contribute for empowering women and girls in society.
Though I could not fight for the injustice happened to me then, I am determined to raise voice against gender violence and continue the fight against sexual violence to create safe and free society for everyone. I am committed to bring SMILES in faces of women and girls.