KATHMANDU: Despite spending millions of rupees on the programs meant to curb the instances of violence against women, the statistics here in Nepal show that the instances of VAW are increasing each year.
Incident One: Police arrested Narayan Karki, 42, of Dudhauli-10 in Sindhuli on Monday last year on charges of insultingly labeling a 40-year-old woman of his neighborhood a witch.
Police arrested Karki based on the written complaint lodged by another woman alleging that he abused a woman calling her a witch so frequently that the neighbors started growing skeptical about her character.
Incident Two: A class 8 student of a school in Silgadhi Municipality, Dipayal, got acquainted with a young man through the social network Facebook.
The 17-year-old got married after her Facebook relationship turned into love. She is now 20 years old and has two children.
Incident 3: Last Thursday, Basanta Damai, 32, of Kamal Binayak in Bhaktapur, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Circle Jagati for raping a 13-year-old girl.
Damai is a permanent resident of Baiteshwor Rural Municipality-4 of Dolakha.
The above are three representative incidents related to various types of crimes against women.
The records at the Police Headquarters show that there have been 18,937 registered incidents of violence against women in the fiscal year 2020/21. Similarly, the fiscal year 2019/20, recorded 15,829 such incidents.
Thus, the record show an increase of instances of VAW increased by 20 percent in one year.
The data show that there had been 19,148 VAW incidents in 2018/19. Interestingly, the following year recorded 17 percent fewer cases.
Interestingly, there has been no research to study what made the data decline and grow again unusually in these years.
Domestic violence is the most common
According to the police, 2020/21 witnessed the highest number of incidents of domestic violence. There had been 14,232 cases of domestic violence in the last one year.
Similarly, there had been 2,534 cases last year. There have been 635 cases of attempted rape. There have been 552 cases of polygamy and 279 cases of child sexual abuse. 84 cases of child marriage have been registered.
The police headquarters has recorded 61 cases of witchcraft, 36 cases of unnatural sex, and two cases of sexual abuse have been registered.
Allegations of witchcraft almost doubled
Thirty-four cases of witchcraft were registered in 2019/20. The number rose to 61 in 2020/21. This is an increase of about 80 percent.
Similarly, the incidence of sexual abuse increased by 66 percent, and domestic violence by 21 percent.
Prevalent laws have the provisions of three years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 30,000 for child marriage. Along with making changes in the legal system, the government has also tried to spread awareness to stop child marriage with the message ‘ Bihebari Bees barsa pari’ which literally means Marriage and settlement only after crossing twenty years.
In the fiscal year 2020/21, the incidence of child marriage increased by 31 percent, according to the police.
Challenges of reducing violence
According to Manoj Kumar Acharya, the Secretary at the National Women Commission, the incidence of violence against women has increased in recent times; however, the perpetrators have not been booked in most cases.
Women in rural areas are unable to file complaints against violence due to fear of losing their social status and threats from perpetrators.
Acharya says that it has been difficult to provide psychosocial counseling to the dumb and deaf women and girls who have been subjected to sexual violence due to the lack of sign language experts.
To ensure the safety and education of the VAW victims, it is necessary to run safe shelters and rehabilitation centers in all seven provinces. No substantive work has been done in this direction.
Misuse of social media
According to Police Spokesperson SSP Basanta Bahadur Kunwar, the incidence of violence and crimes against women and children has increased with the increasing population density and the use of social media.
Criminal-minded people have often abused social media and committed violence against women.
Spokesperson Kunwar told Khabarhub that the incidents of violence have increased due to the lockdown caused enforced to curb COVID-19.
“Because people live at home, there is a lot of stress and there is a lot of violence against women at home,” he said.
SSP Kunwar reiterated the need to launch united efforts of all concerned authorities together.
“It is necessary to raise legal awareness and work in a coordinated manner with the concerned bodies to reduce the incidence of violence,” he said, adding, “About 80 percent of the incidents are from acquaintances and family members.”
SSP Kunwar also says that the perpetrators will come under the purview of law sooner or later.
“Family and community members need to be vigilant to reduce the incidence. Governments at all three levels should be strict in enforcing the law at their level,” he added.
He remarked that human rights activists and social organizations should work in an integrated manner to curb it.