Survivors of gender-based violence and gender rights activist in Nepal have called for inclusive approaches and comprehensive reforms to eliminate gender-based violence prioritizing the most marginalized women and girls.
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, survivors, gender equality activists and representatives from the UN, development partners, and the government came together to commit to take action to end gender-based violence now! The event, streamed live from Patan Museum Courtyard, gave center stage to the stories of GBV survivors as well as to gender equality activists to present a joint statement calling for inclusive and comprehensive reforms to eliminate gender-based violence.
Jenny Khadka, an acid-attack survivor, emphasized everyone’s role in preventing gender-based violence. Ashmita Badi, a poet from Surkhet reiterated how patriarchy stands in the way of a world free of violence. Sharmila Thapa, a Nurse and a Member of the Trade Union questioned the normalization of GBV at the workplace. Similarly, Babita Rai, Feminist Writer shared about sexual harassment and urged for a world free of violence. Lastly, Kathak dancer Subima Shrestha portrayed the grief and perseverance of Gauri Bista, a survivor of domestic violence and women’s rights activist from Doti, through her dance in the song written by Bista herself. Through their stories, the advocates called for urgent action to change discriminatory social norms, policies and laws to prevent gender-based violence.
In the joint statement, Shova Maya BK, Disabled Women’s Rights Activist, Kala Swarnakar, General Secretary, Feminist Dalit Organization, Nagma Khan, Queer Rights Activist, Prakriti Bhattarai, Chairperson, Political Literacy for Women, and Dorje Gurung, Educator and Activist, called for action from the government, multilateral and bilateral organizations to:
Repeal constitutional and legal provisions on legal identity and citizenship to address existing gender-discriminatory provisions.
Amplify efforts to end violence against women and girls with intersectional identities (such as caste/ethnicity, religion, geography, disability, gender and sexual minority) through interventions and policy reform tailored to their specific needs.
Strengthen and intensify response services to GBV through the establishment of fast track courts, well-functioning multi-sectoral support system (e.g., health, legal aid, shelter homes, psychosocial support, interpretation services) and increase access to these services for service-seekers focusing on needs of women and girls from marginalized communities.
“Across the globe, gender-based violence continues with impunity, survivors’ stories silenced while perpetrators evade justice. Today we say, enough with the silence. Stop the Violence Now.” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UN Resident Coordinator, International Development Partner’s Group Co-chair and representing multilateral development partners.
Speaking at the event, Excellency Nona Deprez, European Union Ambassador, Development Partner’s Group Co-chair and representing bilateral development partners expressed, “Ending gender-based violence is non-negotiable. Nepal has worked really hard to have a strong legal framework to combat GBV, which is a real achievement but there is still so much work to be done. It is important to break the cycle of violence”.
During the program, Under-Secretary Ram Hari Sharma from the Ministry of Home Affairs shared that the Ministry has initiated discussions to formulate law related to acid attack as the previous ordinances related to acid attack issued has become ineffective. Dipti Karki, Deputy Superintendent of Police also shared her commitments to end violence against women and girls.
Wrapping up the commemoration event, the UN Country Team lit up Patan Durbar Square Museum and Dharahara in orange, the official color of the UNiTE campaign, that symbolizes hope and a country free of violence.