The National Daily – Republican of 19th March 2015 carried on its front pages a picture of a five year old girl with her mother Himali Gharti, behind a locked grilled door of the district jail in Pyuthan.
A certain @shrua_sharma had been quoted in the same paper of 11th March, as having tweeted “Where’s Nepal’s Government? India’s daughters got more hype but no one talks about her.” She was referring to the six year old, from Bara who had been raped and brutally killed. The only positive aspect of this case is that the person concerned was caught and immediately sentenced to 35 years in jail.
The reference above was to the two years old incident in Delhi in which a physiotherapy student was gang-raped by six persons. She later died of her injuries. The recent outcry against the Indian government was because of the banning a BBC documentary from being shown in India. What I do not understand is the attitude of the Western Media, which does not generally publicise such cases in their home ground, so as not to encourage the perpetrators of such crimes. Is it double standards for screening in here?
Another deplorable incident is that of acid throwing at two girls who were in the midst of their preparation for this year’s SLC. Here again the culprit, has been apprehended and the law will take its course. The disturbing aspect of this case is that this particular individual had tutored one of the girls and it was because of rejecting his advances that this incident took place. The reality in Nepal is that a large number of girls, undergoing education at schools or private tutoring have to face such episodes and the likely possibility of being abused.
There are a lot of INGOs and NGOs that have been working so for a number of years to raise the status of women in this country. NGOs currently working on women’s issues that are registered with the Social Welfare Council are an impressive 2967. Some, such as Maiti Nepal, WOREC, and TEBA etc. have put in a lot of work over the years on various women’s issues, but somehow or the other all these do not appear to have succeeded much.
Though laws in the form of various Acts have been passed against untouchability, women in many parts of Nepal are not allowed to draw water at the wells, enter temples or are forced to segregate themselves as impure in chhaupadis during their monthly periods. These rules are even applied to minors who can’t fight back. Those questioning these practices have been subjected to harassment by their neighbours. The implementation of legal measures is sadly lacking. The authorities are bystanders, watching mutely at the injustices that are being carried out in many parts of Nepal.
Then comes the charges of bokshi that are still being bandied about to harass usually widowed women of the villages who are perhaps trying to eke out a precarious living from their plot of land. In many places it turns out that it is their own kin or relatives who are behind all this for the hidden agenda of taking over the property or what little they have.
A major problem is the question of dowry or tilak. The dousing of the lady, a match and the horrible deed is done. Such practices have been going on for years though there exist laws against it. Implementation is never done. The so called new Act regarding social practices, said to be in the House for approval will most likely fare no better than the one legislated almost forty years ago during the Panchayat Raj.
We in this land are supposed to have put our women on a pedestal. We throng the shaktipiths of the mandirs of our Devis or Goddesses, sacrifice many animals and birds and pray for mercy. Do we as a martial nation have to act in such a manner to give the impression that we do not flinch at the signs of danger and go all out to kill? Is the mass sacrifice for the fulfilment of myriad requests, in such excessive numbers that occurs at Gaddi Mai a sign of our blind faith? Is it rational to take any life, to the extent that the carcasses are so excessive in numbers that they cannot be eaten but are left to rot? Is such behaviour that we have quietly sustained over the ages, the cause of our inhumane behaviour to our country folks? Has this trait become so inbred in us, perhaps even genetic, that we can show no mercy? There is much room for thought in this direction. We must also remember that a large proportion of our nationals are Buddhists and do not approve of killing as such.
Coming back to the incarcerated Himali Magar, we must all be thankful to the National Daily Republica that it has drawn her plight to our attention. Whilst the country is debating about Hindu Rastra and secularism, a mother with a five year old on tow, have spent six years of incarceration. True, that existing laws might be hampering taking action but cannot hers and others in similar circumstances cases be considered for clemency, on humanitarian grounds by the President of Nepal?
What is heartening regarding violence against women (VAW) is the ‘All Men March’ that was taken out in the capital on 23rd March for this cause. The report that the participants were young males makes one hope that their enthusiasm will attract more and more of their peers for this cause planned to be an annual event. Hopefully the younger generation will be better than the oldies who have failed to perform!