Photo Courtesy: Nisha Dhungana
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaimed that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone is entitled to all rights and freedom set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on sex.” However, violence against women is widely found in Nepal.
Nepalese society has created distinctly separate roles for men and women since its formation. Men are always kept in a superior position. Although, it's women who take care of the whole family, most of the parents prefer a son over a daughter. Women are treated as just child bearing machines. Girls are discriminated from the day they are born. They are kept away from the decision making of the family. Daughters are considered to be given away as a gift in marriage in the name of traditional practice called "Kanyadaan". Our society believes that girls should always be kept at lower level. This belief has also increased the cases of domestic violence in Nepal.
Women are not safe whether they are at home, street, public transport or at work place. A form of women harassment, which has been rising these days is rape. A recent example of a rape case is of Neha Pun, also known as Yoruna Pun from Naya Bazaar, Pokhara. She was a Magar actress. On 2nd February, 2016, Tuesday a vicious act shook Nepal. Neha Pun was found raped and murdered in half naked condition near her residence. She was raped by one of her close friends. Nepalese girls are in such a condition that they cannot even trust their family and friends. This act marks a big question to our human rights and humanity. Neha was an actress, so this case got a lot of publicity, but there are so many such cases.
Many of the rape cases go unreported. The victims of rape usually keep the incident a secret for reasons of prestige, honor and their own future. Such an attitude of the victim allows the culprit to roam freely without any fear of punishment. The rapists who come from powerful families never get punished, the victims who are poor never get justice because the police themselves work to cover up the crime and work out an arrangement with the culprits. Thus, a situation has been created where women are unable to report the violence against them due to fear and lack of protection. Most of the women do not report harassment cases to the police department due to the fear that it will bring dishonor to their family’s name. Instead, they quietly suffer the indignation. In many remote places, women are unable to even file a report to the police due to their geographical locations. In this situation, the media can play a very important role in presenting what is happening in the society to the general public.
Our government must move forward to treat violence against women as a serious problem. They must instruct the police to register and investigate every case that is brought to them and bring the perpetrators to justice. We cannot have peace in Nepal unless our government upholds the rights of our citizens to live without fear of violence at home, the workplace and public places.