NWC not receiving enough VAW cases « Khabarhub
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NWC not receiving enough VAW cases

21 August 2019  

Time taken to read : 10 Minute

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KATHMANDU: Violence Against Women (VAW) has gone up if social media posts, electronic and print media reports are to be believed. It means that women of all ages from adolescent to old are either occasionally or regularly or periodically suffer due to physical and emotional violence perpetrated by close relatives or distant acquaintances or completely unknown persons.

VAW may or may not include grievous injuries on the body and mind of women likely to cause death but it surely involves a range of assaults and battery on them such as betrayal, deprivation, neglect, rape, loot and physical harm causing permanent or temporary injury.

Since most of the women live inside the confines of their house, more often than not they are the victims of domestic violence of different degrees from mild emotional rebuke to extreme deprivation of essentials of life and murderous physical attack.

Underreporting of VAW cases is also happening due to inaccessibility of grievance redress agencies for women living in rural and far-flung areas of Nepal.

However, cases of VAW do not reach the police station or any other related women organization probably because victims are dependent upon the perpetrator of violence of them or they are related to women (victims of violence) either by blood or emotional relation or due to some kind of social and cultural pressure working on them.

Underreporting of VAW cases is also happening due to inaccessibility of grievance redress agencies for women living in rural and far-flung areas of Nepal. We all know that most of the Government agencies, NGOs and INGOs working for women rights are based in district Headquarters, towns, and cities. Moreover, most of the rural women of Nepal do not know how to lodge a complaint and which organization will listen to them.

The Government of Nepal established the National Women Commission (NWC) in the year 2058 BS in order to protect and preserve the women rights and privileges given to them by laws and the constitution of the country. NWC is the constitutional body which is autonomous in nature and in its functioning.

Adding to the plight of the Nepalese women is surprisingly fewer numbers of complaints being filed by them with the commission.

From all across the country, very few complaints regarding VAW reach the NWC which does not reflect the actual reality of women suppression at large in the Nepalese society. After National Women Commission came into existence, women across the country were under the impression that violence against women will drastically reduce.

But, nothing like this happened and those women who are victims of domestic violence and discrimination outside are feeling depressed. Adding to the plight of the Nepalese women is surprisingly fewer numbers of complaints being filed by them with the commission.

Kahabarhub reporter approached the reception of NWC and asked them from where to lodge the complaints. Things were not very organized in the first glance as some men were sitting on the table while women were squatting on the ground.

“We don’t receive more than 5 complaints on an average from the victims of VAW,” says an official of NCW adding further that NCW appears crowded as more numbers of relatives and friends familiar with the victims visit here daily.  While browsing through print and electronic media multitude of reports appear daily but not all the cases of VAW reach the door of the National Women Commission.

How many complaints in a year?

NWC received only 1,474 complaints (1,318 for domestic violence and 156 others) in the fiscal year 2075/076 BS. The number of complaints lodged in the NWC was very low (just 729 out of which 668 for domestic violence and 61 for other categories of violence) in the fiscal year 2074/075 BS.

Cases of mutual agreement and reconciliation

Dhrubraj Chhetri, information officer of the NWC, says that a total of 259 cases of marital discord was solved after discussion and concerned women agreed to give a chance to their marriage when husbands agreed to cooperate with them in future.

Most of the cases were related to intoxication, wife-beating under the influence of wine, cases of a second marriage and so on. Cases like these get speedy resolution when both the parties: victims (women) and the abusers (mostly men or husbands) sit face to face to talk out their differences and arrive at agreeable solutions.

However, there are cases of complaints which go on for years before they get successfully resolved to the satisfaction of both sides. The NWC also takes legal recourse by engaging lawyers from ‘Bar Association’ for judicial resolution of VAW cases. The VAW victims stay in the NGO called SATHI till the time rapprochement does not take place between the victim and the oppressor.

What does the NWC say?

There are plenty of VAW related cases in the country. What is stopping the NCW to take the cognizance of such cases on its own? ‘Yes, the NWC has failed in reaching out to different parts of the country to take stock of VAW related cases,’ says Dhrubraj Adhikari, the information officer.

Not less than 12-15 such organizations vowing to protect the women’s interest are working in Nepal at present.

“We couldn’t reach all the parts of the country particularly the far-flung area because we are lacking both finance and logistics”, Adhikari continues, “We received just Rs 300 million last year, which increased to Rs 500 million this current year. Rs 300 million is spent on paying salary to employees of NCW and rest (Rs 200 million) goes to meet the expenditure related to publicity and advertisement.

“We also tied up with World Bank (WB) to conduct a program called SAMBODHAN for which we were paid Rs 130 million,” said Adhikari adding, “One of the reasons why there is less number of complaints are reaching the NWC is that there are other similar organizations (NGOs and INGOs) looking after VAW related cases. Not less than 12-15 such organizations vowing to protect the women’s interest are working in Nepal at present. This is also the reason not many women reach the NCW with their complaints.”

National Women Commission without officials

Horrific cases of women atrocities such as the murder of Nirmala Pant in Kanchanpur after committing rape, the murder of Samjhana Das in Chandranigahpur after acid attack on her are happening all across the country. But, NWC, due to lack of adequate numbers of officers, has not been able to track down these cases for further investigation and for follow-up exercise in the future.

Dhrubraj Adhikari accepts it humbly as one of the major causes of crippling the dynamism and operational efficiency of NWC. He adds, “In the absence of adequate numbers of officers, we couldn’t suggest the right modality and operational technique handle the cases in public media and with the police investigation. It doesn’t convey the right message in public as people, in general, think that the Government of Nepal is not serious about the issues related to women.”

The NWC recommends the government with regard to addition and deletion of the provisions of the laws which are not women-friendly and also suggest to introduce new laws if so required in the present circumstance.

Furthermore, the NWC brings awareness among the people about women rights and other important information related to the security and safety of women. The NWC also arranges for legal assistance to victims of VAW and stand for their rights.

“All these works suffer a serious setback if the NWC does not have enough numbers of officials to work,” according to Adhikari. The NWC has been existing without enough numbers of officers working for it since Asoj 29, 2074 when the Act of National Women Commission came into being. The officials are appointed by the constitutional council under the chair of the Prime Minister. Sadly enough, the constitutional council has not filled the vacancies of the NWC till today.

What is about provincial windows of the NWC?

It was a talk of the town a few months back that the NWC will open up offices in all the seven provinces of Nepal. Even the Constitution of Nepal has mentioned about it. As of today, there are no such offices opened by the NWC to reach out to victims of VAW all across the country through the existing seven provinces.

Khabarhub came to know that some of the staff of National Women Commission had visited Province Number 6 and 7 with a view to opening extension windows there but things have not fructified yet. The government has made budgetary provisions for setting up offices of the NCW in each province but it has not happened.

Publish Date : 21 August 2019 09:53 AM

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