Where is Justice?
Delhi gang rape is still fresh and protests are raging inferno in the streets of India with its supporters sans borders. We all know it’s not the end, not definitely the cessation of abuse, violence and brutality against women inflicted globally but it is certainly a herald of a nascent beginning. The widespread cult of gender based violence and sexual violence has been proliferated also in Nepal in an unprecedented way. There’s just no single day when I don’t get to hear the cases of women being abused, raped, molested, murdered and burnt alive. They no longer feel secure, not even at their homes. It’s just been a while that Shiva Hashami, a sixteen year old girl from Bardiya was charred to death by her own family in an allegation to have brought disgrace to the family. As a consequence, she suffered a 90 percent burn and ultimately a painful death on December 12.
In 2007, Hasrun Idrisi from Nepalgunj a mother of two was set on fire by her in-laws because she could not bring ample dowry. Luckily, she survived and her perpetrators i.e. her husband and mother-in-law are serving jail terms of 7 and 5 years respectively. During that time, Nepal had the world’s largest presence of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (seven) although it formally closed in March 2012 when its mandate was not renewed. Sita Rai, a 21 year old woman who went for foreign employment to Saudi Arabia returned back only to be robbed by Somnath Khanal, a government official at the airport and subsequently raped by Parashuram Basnet, a security personnel. At present she is pregnant and Government has decided to provide her 150000 rupees of money although the government employees had robbed her 218000 rupees. Amid these unfortunate incidents, another teenager Bindu Kumari Thakur (18 years old) is found burned and her charred body left in a mysterious situation barely 100 meters away from her home in Bara district.
Actually it’s not that surprising to witness these horrific and recurring occurrences, if we notice the attitudes, beliefs and values of our society that is instilled and infiltrated in the perpetrators that has worked to bring these havoc. Women are still shackled by the brutal cult of discriminatory and patriarchal systems deeply rooted in our culture and social values. Its symptom thus manifests itself in every possible crime that human mind could fantasize. Trafficking, rape, child pornography, gender based violence and murders are just symptoms of a broader and structurally rooted evils, which needs further intervention beyond surface measures.
The problem here has not so much to do with these appallingly increasing crimes and murders, rather it has to do with our mindset, our values, our customs that is incurably patriarchal and androcentric. It is such a pity that although all of the South Asian countries have ratified CEDAW, they have been just dumb observers of these brutalities. It is an utter disappointment that legal frameworks such as CEDAW and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been proved redundant.
As if women are forever doomed to suffer whether they’re fighting repeated sexual violence and poverty in Congo, inequality and dowry-related violence or domestic violence in India or suffering from cultural and social mal practices of witchcraft or poverty induced trafficking in Nepal. Hundreds of women are dying painful deaths each day. It is such an irony that women here are considered the incarnation of Goddess Saraswati, Maha Laxmi and Kali; while the Muslims regard mother as having paradise at her feet. So, where is the justice then? When will we wake up? How much will it take to realize that women’s issues are everyone’s issues? Until then justice to these women seems elusive and hard as an old song says:
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
And how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.