Waiting for Justice in Nepal
For almost two years now, I am struggling for justice - in a country not of my own and in a culture that has killed my dignity. I am a victim of treachery, lies, sexual and domestic abuse, of a man who freely roams around and threaten me to shut up. His violent psychological attacks trigger in me disturbing dreams in the middle of the night, causing me to cry endlessly and provoking fear that anytime and anywhere soon, I can end up rotten and dead in a river bank, faceless and gagged. This has always been the scenario in Nepal and the monumental iniquity of gender based violence deserves a public outrage and an equally deafening legal battle in the courts.
Beneath the tangles of legal drama, where I filed cases on sexual abuse, domestic violence, contempt of court and divorce in Kathmandu District Court, is a series of threats and harassments that I have received in many unimaginable forms from my perpetrator. Prior to my court applications, my attacker told me that upon my arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, I would be arrested by the Nepal police and jailed based on criminal charges that he has framed against me. By all accounts, the foe turning into a monster desperately wants to stop my arrival in Nepal so that I cannot file court charges against him. Scary as it may seemed, with my legs and hands shaking and trembling, I landed in TIA that fateful day in March 2012, escorted by a Nepali police friend to protect me, and filed my four cases on gender based violence against my attacker.
Earlier, I sat in front of fifteen women who were human rights leaders in Nepal and narrated my story. There on my right side was Laura, my Australian friend who tightly clasped my hand, as my voice trailed off whisking tears flowing from my eyes and in details revealing all the suffering that I was going through for the past years. Fifteen pairs of eyes glued on me, some shed tear, some looked shocked, others glanced away thinking far. Weeping on a tragedy and exposing the intricate details of a fraudulent relationship, from how I met him, the courtship period, the lies and deceit, the sexual abuses, the names and faces of people involved, was like thousands of daggers stabbing me. I could hardly breathe.
I came in Nepal in 2009 to work for an international NGO that was implementing a project on pedestrian improvements. I was naive and young, and in my gullibility, fell in love with a Nepali from the media sector. We hitched fine at the early stage, we lived together and introduced each other to our friends and family. After almost two years of our relationship, I came to know that he was already married back in 2008. Some people say I was stupid, how was I not able to know this fact? He stayed with me, dined at the table, slept in my bed, washed and changed clothes in front of me everyday and night. How can one tell that a man living a life like that has a wife somewhere else?
It was a normal relationship like everyone else, built on trust and love and respect, and not doubting that a partner has married someone else before me.
When that reality of him being married dawned on me, I was on the way of becoming a mother. Imagine the world collapsing on all angles leaving me clueless on how to start my life. But even more than that, he started harassing me to terminate the baby, yelling at me and forcing me to donate it to the orphanage or raising it as my own. Definitely, he was washing off any responsibility to me. In the midst of dust and hollering vehicles in Kathmandu, I walked very far that day holding on to my bulging tummy not knowing where to go.
The threats did not stop and this time, it was from his family. They were keen in keeping me away from the picture, away from the social status that they want to maintain in front of the community. For them I was an illegitimate wife, a foreigner who will destroy their brahmin lineage, a non-Hindu girl who should and never will be accepted in their society. They sent me emails and messages of all kinds scaring me to go away, to leave Nepal for good, raise the child and completely forget the whole drama.
But I was not raised as a coward and definitely I don't stand quiet on human abuses. I have always lived within the boundaries of universal truth to respect human life in ways that I deserve to be respected. For safety reasons, I flew back to the Philippines to be with my family. For three months, I kept quiet and tried hardest to live a normal life. But when my perpetrator sent character assassination emails to my office bosses that intrigued my character as a woman, I had psychological breakdown. He accused me that I was a mistress and sent emails containing forged intimate and illegally obtained images of myself that was meant to discredit me to hundreds of my office colleagues' emails. In an almost 90 percent Christian country like the Philippines, this was something to be talked about, not just on regular office hours but on side gossips as well. I could not face my peers at work, I cried every night and this tremendous stress triggered a massive internal bleeding that made me lose my baby of five months. Thereafter, I lost my job, went mentally lost and decided to go to psychological counseling to find myself back into the real world.
The court has issued a protection order to me that sealed my safety against my ex-husband. He is not allowed to contact me, come close to me or visit my place of living and work. Others say that it was a positive move for me, in a country dominated by patriarchal system such as Nepal, this was already a big win for me. While all my cases are still pending in court now, the nightmares are still recurring, the pain is still massive and the trauma has turned into a scar that has remained etched in my body. While Nepali tabloids feast on my story without any inch of respect, I remain steadfast in my prayers that justice will be soon be granted to me.