KATHMANDU: A woman with long hair with vermillion starting from the forehead and a 7-year-old girl in lap is sitting in the damp street near Kalimati-based Women and Children Service Center of Nepal Police.
She looked different from others. Most of the people who came to various complaints were accompanied by their relatives, but she was alone.
When Khabarhub approached the Center to find out what kind of complaints would come and what sort of them were on the rise, we met the woman on the way.
She was waiting for her turn to file her complaint.
“Where did you come from, sister?” we asked her, but instead of responding, she questioned us back, “Have you also come here to complain about your husband torturing you?”
We wanted to talk to her, so we got closer. Perhaps her mind was obsessed with the regular torture she was subject to from her husband, hence, she was asking the same question whenever she met a person.
“We have come here to study about those who come to complain not to make a complaint of our own,” we replied.
It’s not easy to share the grief in public, however, after we offered details about how we worked and what we did, she opened up to us on the condition that we would not take her photos and keep her name confidential.
“I don’t know where I was born or where I grew up, maybe fate meant my birthplace and workplace the same, i.e. street,” she started her story with a sigh, “A man from a rich family in Kuleswor picked me up from the street at the age of 9, promising me some work and education opportunity.”
She reported that the man could not keep his words as he has many constraints.
“His family did not allow me to study at home, yet I was happy. I stayed there for about three years,” she continued her story.
The routine was passing. I was gradually maturing with the age. I felt many people cast their lustful glances at me. Feeling uncomfortable there, I left the house.
She did not know where to go and what to do. One day she reached a site where the construction of a house was going on and managed to earn daily wages. At the same place, she met a stranger whom she married one month after.
Soon after the marriage, she became a mother. But from then on, her husband started abusing her, torturing her both physically and mentally. He stopped caring for her.
Even in the midst of a financial crisis, she brought up her daughter who is now seven. The woman said that she was appalled to hear that her husband has married another girl and is living with her as well. She had come to the cell to file a complaint of polygamy against her husband.
Looking at her and the child in the lap, the people sitting around the service center in Kalimati remarked that the children become the victim of the parent’s misunderstanding.
“Children suffer the most due to the parents’ quarrel,” the people commented.
It was natural for the people to say so as she was not alone. Many women come to the office of the Kalimati-based service center to register complaints carrying children in their arms.
As quarrels arising from family bring disruption in the society, women have recently started taking complaints to the police office, National Women’s Commission, the local bodies, or directly to the court.
7,500 incidents of violence in three years
The Kalimati-based Women and Children Service Center receives 2000 to 3000 complaints every year and most of them are related to domestic violence.
The statistics show that the center received 2,298 complaints in 2017/18 out of which there were 39 cases of human trafficking and smuggling, 55 cases of polygamy, 194 cases of rape, 44 cases of forced labor and 2298 cases of domestic violence.
Similarly, out of 2,746 cases registered in 2018/19, there had been 50 cases of human trafficking and smuggling, 108 cases of polygamy, 225 cases of rape, 45 cases of rape attempt and industry and 2,315 cases of domestic violence.
Likewise, the current fiscal year received 2,297 cases in the women and children cell till the end of January 2021.
Out of these cases, there are 67 cases of polygamy, two cases of child marriage, 184 cases of forced marriage, 35 cases of forced marriage industry and 1985 cases of domestic violence.
80 percent of the case are settled at the Center
According to the Center, out of the cases registered in the center around 80 percent of complaints are related to violence against women.
Kopila Chudal, the Chief of Women, Children and Senior Citizen Service Center states that most of the complaints which reach the center are concluded on the basis of the Domestic Violence Act, 2009.
The procedure takes momentum after the physical and mental torturers against whom the complaint is filed are called at the center for preliminary discussion.
“We call both the victim and the perpetrator to the service center, hold discussions for a month and decide within 29 days,” Chudal briefed the procedure to Khabarhub, “if they agree, we settle it there and if they do not agree, we send it to the high court. If found guilty, they will be jailed for six months.”
According to Chudal, most of the complaints registered in the center are related to domestic violence in general and mental and physical tortures in specific.
“Several complaints are lodged alleging the husbands of physically, mentally and financially torturing their wives and even do not allow the wives to go out of the house, and not to talk to anyone,” she told Khabarhub about the nature of the complaints, “We have settled such cases in the agreement of both sides, however, the rape cases and other criminal offenses are dealt as per the prevalent laws.”
Most of the time, the women who come to complain here are the ones fed up with the quarrels at home.
“Many women come to the service center with their baby in their arms,” Chudal told Khabarhub, “We feel happy to have their home arranged for the baby.”
Parents have to behave like responsible people. We remind them that they are like the gods for their children so they should behave in a mature way.
Things will change gradually: Right activists
Women’s rights activists label the patriarchal attitude responsible for most of the instances of domestic violence.
“Discriminatory treatment against the women, the patriarchal social structure among many others going on in the society since ages are responsible for such behavior,” Kala Rai, a women rights activist shared her experience to Khabarhub, “However, various awareness campaigns are materializing.”
She remarked that the notions that have been followed for ages take time to change; hence, one has to be optimistic about the possibility of the days when no women will be the subject to domestic violence.