“The main goal of the future would be to stop violence as the world seems to be addicted to it.”
Dr. Madhuri Singh is a household name. Her efforts against domestic violence are well known. Domestic violence generally covers domestic abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse or intimate partner violence (IPV).
Dr. Madhuri is the first person to receive a doctorate on the topic of domestic violence, which is a major issue in our society like in many other places.
“Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of scars and bruises. It is devastating to be abused by someone that you love and think loves you in return,” Dr. Madhuri says.
She has been working on social, educational, gender, human rights and development issues in Nepal for the last twenty five years. She is also involved in research and study related to women and children and has been recognized for her work with various awards.
Dr. Madhuri is currently working as the Development Program Specialist at USAID/Nepal. She is also the founding president of SAATHI, a pioneering organization that addresses the issues of violence against women and girls in the country. She is also an active member of the Women’s Rights Movement of Nepal and a member of many women’s groups. She has represented Nepal in many national, regional and international women’s conferences and workshops, often giving presentations on various aspects of discrimination and violence against women.
“I would call my grandmother and mother an inspiration as both of them were strong women who fought and established their rights and I think that this quality in me is inherited from them and I will always respect characters like them,” she says.
She has taken various measures in reducing domestic violence and has also spread awareness on issues of women through SAATHI. Her greatest role has been advocacy and Dr. Madhuri has trained approximately six thousand people over sixty four districts. She still continues research, talk programs and advocacy at different levels.
“So much violence in the world seems beyond our control, but this domestic violence is one cruelty we can stop by making others aware of this,” she says.
“Nobody believes that domestic violence kills and nobody believes that it’s detrimental to children. The world has got to wake up. To me, if there is domestic violence and if the children see it or hear it, it is detrimental. Batterers should not have rights to children.” says Dr. Madhuri.
“I have a lot of responsibility”
On a brief interview with Dr. Madhuri, she reveals the following things about herself to Shradha Gyawali:
Of all the things you learnt from your parents, which do you feel was most valuable?
My mother always instilled in me the value of education. She always said it is the only property that can grow with time and cannot be stolen. She also taught me moral behavior and value of education and morality which have proved to me one of my most precious assets all these years.
How is the world today different from what it was when you were a child?
“Vast difference.” When I was a child, Nepal was beautiful and natural, there was a lot of interaction among friends and family members. We spent most of our times playing games which children today hardly do and Katmandu was beautiful. Of course, now globalization has had its impact and in many ways Nepal has become good but it has lost its charm. Children have a lot of stress and competition among them these days and they have also lost their childhood.
How would you describe the responsibility of people like you?
I have a lot of responsibility and with a certain set of achievements come added responsibilities. What I say and what I do is taken seriously by people. I need to be careful that my words and actions match. I think people like me should be more careful and balanced and know the fact and then only go out in the public. All their words should follow a proof.
How do you like working on issues related to domestic violence?
I really like working on this issue because since the inception of SAATHI, I have dealt with many victims, heard their stories and have very strong opinion about them and their conditions. Besides impacting adults, domestic violence has a great impact on children as witness. I think everyone should be aware of domestic violence and people as good citizens should try to stop this.
What qualities do you respect and value in people you work with? Why are these qualities important to you?
I respect honesty, dedication and sincerity. This is because I am honest as it is one of my childhood value and also because honesty pays, dedication brings expected results and sincerity helps you attain your goal.
What advice would you like to give people who want to follow your path?
There actually needs to be a lot of people to execute what I am doing. It is not an easy path as you are going against the tide and breaking all the social and cultural norms which have been prevalent in the society from past so many years. Social change is very difficult to perceive and people may get frustrated if they don’t get immediate results but you need to have patience. It is not an easy path and can get depressing and frustrating and needs to have a lot of dedication. But at the same time if you are positive then that is the cause and for that cause you need to work harder. We can all take responsibilities for helping to bring about change, and keeping our friends and colleagues safe from domestic violence.