The society we live in is deep-rooted in patriarchy. The patriarchal thinking and denial of rights and freedom has led to the subjugation of women in almost all the spheres of society. Women are confined to their traditional roles and are expected to behave in a way considered correct or appropriate by the society. The increase in violence against women and girls (VAWG), and persecution of women human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations remains pervasive throughout the world. Many of our members live in politically challenged environments, putting them at risk and are experiencing restrictions on freedom of movement, arbitrary detention, threats to their lives, intimidation and harassment for breaking the silence and speaking out against violations of women and their human rights as well as detriment to their health and well-being.
VAWG is any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. There are many forms of violence against women, including sexual, physical, or emotional abuse by an intimate partner; physical or sexual abuse by family members or others; sexual harassment and abuse by authority figures (such as teachers, police officers or employers); trafficking for forcedVAW labor or sex; and such traditional practices as forced or child marriages, dowry-related violence; and honor killings, when women are murdered in the name of family honor. Systematic sexual abuse in conflict situations is another form of violence against women. Therefore, violence against women is a violation of women’s rights. It is increasing at an alarming rate. There are several reports on incidences of violence against women including suicide and the murder and different cases of violence remain unnoticed. These violence cases are unheard. There is no social support mechanism for the survivors from the government. Gender based victimization is responsible for one out of every five healthy days of life lost to women of reproductive age. The disability adjusted life years per million for rape and violence and its outcome are 9.5, contributing the global burden of the disease. As a result, the situation forces women to live under abusive situation and face physical violence. The harrowing effects of VAWG range from bruises to suicide or suicidal attempt. The roots of VAW lie in persistent discrimination against women. In Nepali society, semi-feudal and patriarchal structure, superstitions and illiteracy among women, as well as poverty and marginalization of women are the factors accelerating the cases of VAW at large. At the same time, impunity in the state and weak enforcement of law are also responsible for VAW.
Violence against Women (VAW) campaign of WOREC is a vibrant campaign, under which various programs are being carried out. These programs are conducted to address numerous multi-faceted issues responsible for VAW in Nepal. WOREC’s experience of working at local and national levels has revealed that only a multi-pronged approach, which addresses the numerous and complex causes of women trafficking and all other forms of VAW, is effective in eliminating the unequal power relations and achieving human rights for all Nepali girls, women and marginalized groups.
According to the data collected by WOREC from January to December 2014, there were 2225 cases of violence against women. Out of this, the cases of domestic violence accounts to 67.6 percent (1503), social violence 12 percent (267), rape 8.9 percent (199), attempt to rape 2.6 percent (58), sexual violence 3.4 percent (76), murder 1.8 percent (40), attempt to murder 1.2 percent (26).Last year, 14 women became the victims of trafficking and 4 of attempt to trafficking. Likewise, the suicide rate of women is on the rise and the data shows this year 1.2 percent (27) committed suicide. Similarly, 11 women were made to disappear for different reasons. These are only the cases documented by WOREC and many such instances of violence against women are confined to individual households only and they never come out in open. This data express the bitter reality of the status of women in Nepali society.
Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) has been working for the protection and promotion of women’s rights for more than two decades now. WOREC has been accomplishing activities to break the silence relating to violence and to ensure justice to the survivors of GBV by providing security and other supports. WOREC also provides the environment to survivors to lead their lives with dignity and human rights by building their capacity and advocating for and creating the environment for it.
WOREC has been providing counseling and support to the survivors through counseling centers and safe houses. There are currently safe shelter in Kathmandu, Kailali, Dang, Udayapur, Morang, Butwal and Dhanusha being run by WOREC. The survivors in the safe house are provided with counseling service and legal support, along with other basic necessities like food, clothing and basic medications. They are also given capacity building trainings and encouraged to fight for their rights.
WOREC has managed to create a common platform for women working in different issues of human rights to come together and advocate for their rights and security. This platform, recognized as Women Human Rights Defenders Campaign, has been ongoing since 2005. Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) are those people who work at the grass root level and bring the cases of violence against women in public.
Historically, Women Human Rights Defenders in Nepal have been the victims of marginalization and harassment by the state or non-state actors including their own male colleagues. Although sharing equal responsibility of work, WHRDs face more risk compared to their male colleagues, and, in addition, do not receive credit on the work they do. Lack of recognition of WHRDs has placed in the larger strategic play of the patriarchal society to suppress women and to confine them in the private sphere. The pervasive male dominance in every form and shape has reinforced the notion that women belong to the private sphere. This has had serious impact on women’s ability to actively participate in the socio-economic and political processes.
The democratization process is difficult to take the right course if there is systematic exclusion of women based on religious and traditional cultural practices. Hence, WOREC believes that encouragement of WHRD through the recognition of their work will be one step closer to inclusive democracy. The campaign therefore focuses on capacity building of WHRDs, dissemination of information on rights and education materials, documentation in giving visibility to the violence against Women Human Rights Defenders, advocacy on legal recognition of Women Human Rights Defenders with changes at grassroots and national level, support mechanisms and networking. Some of the major objectives of WHRDs are to form nationwide networks of women human rights defenders and strengthen relationships between WHRDs and women’s organizations working in different sectors, to lobby the government for effective mechanisms for the security, support mechanisms and protection of WHRDs, to document cases of violence against WHRDs and develop a relevant database, and to facilitate capacity building of WHRDs at the community level.