Vulnerabilities of women in Nepal
31 Dec 2012- A migrant Nepali woman got raped while returning to her home from the immigration office in Kathmandu.
3 April 2013- A teenage girl got raped in Kavre district of Nepal.
19 April 2013 - A Nepali woman worker got gang raped in New Delhi.
Whenever I flip over the pages of my daily newspaper, a rape case pops up as a heading. The news itself is a matter of disgust, but the most repulsive feeling about reading this news is when we learn about how brutally the women are being assaulted. The inhumane act of inserting sharp objects in the private parts of women does raise a question: are these men animals? Why are women so vulnerable – is it our fault that we are born as a woman or is it society that has made women so weak?
These questions are recently the hot topic of discourse throughout the international arena as well as in Nepal. Not only sexual violence, but also domestic violence, gender disparity in health and education, socially uprooted stigmas, and many more injustices affect women in Nepal. I personally have not been victim to any of these discriminations until now; however, I have heard, read, and witnessed many examples of poor women, whose conditions are appalling, in the rural, western districts like Jajarkot, Manang, and Jumla in Nepal.
Cities and urban areas have already adapted to the ideology that there should not be gender disparity in education and the situation of women in the cities is comparatively better than that of women in the rural parts of Nepal. Although few schools are built in the villages that promote girls education, still the participation of female students are fewer than that of male students. Indeed, girls’ drop outs are inexplicably higher than boys’.
One of the significant reasons could be early marriage: because of weak economic condition of family, parents try to marry off their daughters at their early ages of 12 or 15. Girl children are supposed to be good at household chores and maintaining family roles so that she can handle the domestic issues in her husband’s family. In fact, parents think that raising a girl child is like watering a neighbor’s plants. Educating girls will do no good to the family because at the end the daughter has to go to her in laws family. Therefore, they see no advantage in educating girls; instead they prefer saving that money for giving a dowry for their daughter’s marriage. Hence, girls have less opportunity to study.
Deprivation of education and early marriage results a lot of obstacles in women’s life, whether it is social, health, or economic. Nonetheless, social issues are the greatest deterrence to girls’ education. One of the reasons why girls’ trafficking is prevalent in rural Nepal is because of the lack of girls’ education. It becomes easy for traffickers to lure innocent and illiterate girls with the “big” dreams of luxury and work. Moreover, girls with the poor financial background get trapped into the cage of traffickers and end up in selling their lives in brothels.
Women who do not have higher education in Nepal also tend to migrate to Gulf nations and neighboring countries for labor work. And who can guarantee their secure life? Again, news channels report annually that women in the foreign lands are sexually abused by their employers and even recent news confirms that a young Nepali worker got gang raped in the capital city of India. Therefore, these problems would have been at least controlled if women were provided education for empowerment.
Nevertheless, the solutions for these problems are not impossible. If women are treated equally as men, the problem can be solved to a large extent, and it should start from the small unit of population .i.e. a family should be the pioneers to educate their daughters. The problems of trafficking have been solved significantly with the continuous effort of NGOs working on these issues. Strengthening surveillance on borders to avoid trafficking, educating women, and providing skill development trainings through NGOs has helped women to create a safety shield from the traffickers. Furthermore, government’s initiatives to promote girls’ education through campaigning, media advertising, and facilities such as free primary education and empowering women to discard early marriages are also helping to reduce barriers in education for women.
However, the change seen is in tortoise speed, so the government should hold on to its responsibilities to protect the future of nation’s daughters through strong laws and regulations in the country, more opportunities for girls’ education and more quotas for creating women leaders for the nation.
Hence, these solutions might help to fortify women’s position in Nepal and hopefully, I would hear less news about women’s endangered lives.