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Ms. Punam Shrestha Kathmandu Abstract Domestic violence against women indicates to inferior status of Nepalese women. It has been entirely a personal matter in spite of its serious nature. Differential attitude of gender deriving from patriarchal structures has discriminated Nepalese women since many centuries. Domestic violence as such indicates to all sorts of acts against physical, psychological and sexual well being of women in the family. It is an attempt to ensure male power on women. Cultural, economic and religious factors reinforce male dominance and female subservience. The prevalence of DVA Win Nepal is 43.72 %. Present status of Physical, sexual and psychological violence is 24.52 %, 29.31 % and 27.40 % respectively. Keywords: abuse, discrimination, patriarchy, perpetrators, violence.
Not many researches have been pursued on domestic violence against women (DVAW) in Nepal yet. Therefore, this problem needs proper attention. Neither the government agencies nor ordinary citizens are aware of the problems of Nepalese women. Therefore, it is attempted in this paper to evaluate the prevailing trends and pattern of DVAW in Nepal. This paper basically evolved from the field research pursued in the multi ethnic environment in Kathmandu area. Before proceeding to analyse different aspects of DVAW in Nepal, it is rather necessary to give a brief account on the structure of Nepalese society for better understanding of women and domestic violence because socio-economic structure and culture-religious aspects have far reaching consequences on the status of women in Nepal. Nepal, a country in the Himalayas, is comprised of heterogeneous population. In spite of small size of the country, national population consists of hundreds of ethnic, caste and linguistic groups. People live in three broad geographical regions – the high Himalayan ranges, middle hill region and tropical plain lands in the south. Nepal’s ethnic, caste and linguistic groups and communities have independent cultures, traditions and languages. As a matter of fact, there is great variation between people living in Nepal. Thus, position of women and attitude and perception about their role and status also varies from one group to the other. Women enjoy a great deal of authority and freedom in Mongoloid communities comparing to their counterparts in the Aryan communities such as Brahmins, Kshetriyas and the untouchable castes. Consequently, violence perpetrated against women also has certain differences in its basic nature in different communities. Thus, data based on
2 one community in one region may not necessarily represent the general situation of DVAW in Nepal. In this context, one has to consider cultural and social heterogeneity while studying Nepalese women. Due to this reason, data was collected from various caste groups for generalization. Conclusion is largely drawn from the analysis of primary data.
Domestic Violence against Women and the Context of Nepal
Violence against women (VAW) has been a deep-rooted social and family problem in Nepal. Generally, violence is a tool of terror, and its use can be seen to relate directly to male assumptions about privileged access and ownership.1 Undoubtedly, men’s violence against women is a sensitive issue. Male members in the society are known to identify with their own gender and accept the idea that men have the right to control their wives. 2 Domestic violence against women (DVAW) is a form of abuse, which results in the mistreatment of women by other family members. It is a reflection of power relationships between spouses.3 In the Nepalese context, DVAW affects more than two out of every four women throughout their lifetime. It crosses all races, sexual orientations, religions, socio-economic status and geography. DVAW does not tend to stop on its own but gets worse over time. The definition of DVAW extends beyond physical acts of violence toward one’s partner to include sexual coercion, physical threats, psychological abuse and controlling actions such as physical isolation or restricting access to health care or financial resources.4 According to the General Recommendation No. 19 of the CEDAW Committee, DVAW is one of the most insidious forms of violence against women. It carries not only serious health consequences for women, but many hidden social costs as well. 5 Thus, it is the actions by the family against one of its members that threaten the life, body, psychological integrity or liberty of the member. All these spring from the structure of patriarchy, defined broadly as a system of male dominance legitimated within the family and society through superior rights, privileges, authority and power.6 For the purpose of this paper, DVAW has been defined as emotional, verbal,
Aisha Gill, December 2004, ‘Voicing the Silent Fear: South Asian Women’s Experiences of Domestic Violence', The Howard Journal, Vol. 43 No 5, Blackwell Publishing, pp 479. R. Gupta, 2003, Home Breakers to Jail Breakers: South Hall Black Sisters, London: Zed Press, pp. 10-26. Strauss, M.A., R. Gelles and S. Steinmetz, 1980, Behind Close Door: Violence in the American Family, New York: Doubleday. Etienne G. Krug, Linda L. Dahlberg, James A. Mercy, Anthony B. Zwi and Rafael Lozano (ed.), 2002, World Report on Violence and Health, Geneva: World Health Organization., p. 5; R. Jewkes, et al., 2002, ‘Sexual Violence,’ in: E G Krug et al, (eds.), Geneva: World Health Organization. Punam Shrestha, 2007, ‘Violence Against Women and Public Health Issues in the Context of Nepal’, Rolamba, Vol. 27, Nos. 1~4, pp. 11-17; Carole Warshaw, May/July 1996, 'Domestic Violence: Changing Theory, Changing Practice’, JAMWA- Journal of American Medical Women Association, Vol. 51, No. 3, pp. 87-92. Yogesh Atai, and Meera Kosambi (eds.), 1993, Violence against Wimen Reports from India and the Republic of Korea (Social and Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific RUSHSAP Series of
3 physical, sexual and psychological abuse against women within the family settings. It covers the broad range of abuses by the male or female members in the family. DVAW of different forms has drawn attention in a broader scale around the world making it the focus of policy makers and women activists. The degree of universal focus reflects seriousness of the problem. DVAW is one form of violence against women that happens within the family. Considering the magnitude of the problem and its consequences, this paper aims at analyzing patterns and trends of DVAW in Nepal based on sample survey pursued in the Kathmandu valley. In the South Asian context, women are vulnerable to various forms of violence. Patriarchy has been deeply entrenched and gender biases are perpetrated by men and women, as part of the social order. The researches done so far on South Asian DVAW reflect hopes, expectations and frustrations of women.7 DVAW has been a widespread social problem in Nepal. Cultural, social, economic and religious factors reinforce male dominance and female subservience so thoroughly that neither the DVAW nor the failure to complain about it is unusual in the context of Nepalese women.8 Women's dependence is reinforced in the law, religion and cultural norms.9 Nepal’s divergent ethnicity has also created diverse characteristics, intensity and pattern of violence. Violence and women are synonymously related in Nepal. It indicates to the inferior status of women in the male dominated Nepalese society. The traditional cultural values as well as social and family contexts are conducive to domestic violence in Nepal. DVAW has been perpetrated by the intimate partner and other family members. The main perpetrators of DVAW in most developing countries are men. In developing countries, women are vulnerable to many forms of violence, and domestic violence represents the most common form. Although DVAW is a serious problem, it has been entirely a personal problem in Nepal. Domestic violence is considered to be an internal family affair and a matter of family honour. The general tendency of women, thus, is to avoid reporting incidents of DVAW and bringing it to public. Consequently, it has become
Monographs and Occasional Papers), Bangkok: UNESCO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, p. 10. See for details: Nata Duvvury, 2000, Domestic Violence in India: A Summary Report of Four Records Studies, International Center for Research on Women; Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, 1998, Domestic Violence in Nepal, Minnesota: Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights; Tabassum Ruchira Naved, 2003, ‘A Situational Analysis of Violence Against Women in South Asia’, in Violence Against Women in South Asia A Regional Analysis, Thailand: Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development and UNFPA; Roy, M. K., 2000, Violence Against Women New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishes; SAATHI and the Asia Foundation, 1997, A Situational Analysis of Violence Against Women and Girls in Nepal, Katmandu: SAATHI; Sapana Pradhan Malla and Yubaraj Sangroula, 1997, ‘Report on Violence Against Women’, A report submitted to the UNICEF Nepal, Kathmandu. Punam Shrestha, 2006, ‘An Analysis of Domestic Violence against Women (in Nepali)’, Rolamba, Vol. 25, Nos. 1-4, pp. 42-46. Domestic Violence in Nepal, Minnesota . . . . , op. cit, pp. 6-7.
4 a complex social problem. Therefore, it needs to see in consideration with cultural, social, economic, psychological, sexual and religious norms and contexts. Cultural system legitimizes violence, legal authorities fail to protect women, economic structures subordinate women, and political systems marginalize women’s needs.10 The social norms encourage husbands to exercise their rights to dominate and control wives.11 The extent of DVAW is determined by a number of factors. Nepalese women are exposed to domestic or other forms of violence primarily due to economic dependency, patriarchal structures, illiteracy, social customs and prejudices, lack of social awareness, sex related problems, family matters, son preference, childlessness, presence of second wife, inter family member relationship, workload, discrimination by the seniors, status & power of in-laws and so on. Economic backwardness also has greater impact on intensity of DVAW. Its forms and contexts differ in different societies. Thus, it is also true among different ethnic groups in Nepal. Various forms of VAW and DVAW exist in Nepal. Gender based violence inside home in Nepal is an attitudinal problem of men towards women in Nepal created and accelerated due to patriarchal structure.12 On contrary to its seriousness, no proper attention is paid to root it out. No effective laws against DVAW have been promulgated yet in Nepal. DVAW is all sorts of acts against physical, psychological and sexual well being of women within the family. The perpetrators of DVAW are the intimate partners or other family members who are aware of the fact what they have been doing. Generally, incidence of non-physical abuse appears more frequently than physical abuse. Patriarchal family system and gender inequality within the family are responsible for the prevalence of wife abuse. Patriarchal societies where men control all decisions result in greater violence when women seem to question or go outside the framework of such decisions.13 Marital violence is a prevalent form of DVAW in societies in which patriarchal systems are strong and women have few options outside of marriage due to divorce restrictions and low access to economic resources. It is an accepted means for conflict-resolution.14 It is true in the context of Nepalese women.
Pradeep Kumar Panda, 2004, ‘Domestic Violence against Women in Kerala Discussion Paper No. 86’, Thiruvananthapuram: Centre for Development Studies, p. 15; L., A Heise. Raikes, C. H. Watts, A.B. Zwi, 1994, ‘Violence Against Women: A Neglected Public Health Issue in Less Developed Countries’, Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 39. R. E. Dobash, and R. Dobash, 1992, Women, Violence and Social Change, London: Routledge,. Gupta, R., 2003, Home Breakers to Jail Breakers: South Hall Black Sisters, London: Zed Press. Giridhari Sharma Paudel, ‘Domestic Violence Against Women in Nepal’, Gender, Technology and Development, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2007, pp. 199-233. Radhika Coomaraswamy, ‘The Varied Contours of Violence Against Women in South Asia,’ Fifth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, Celebrating Beijing Plus Ten, Islamabad, 3- 5 May 2005, Organized by the Government of Pakistan and UNIFEM South Asia, p. 8. Pradeep Kumar Panda, 2004, ‘Domestic Violence against Women in Kerala Discussion Paper No. 86’, Thiruvananthapuram: Centre for Development Studies, p. 16; D. Levinson, 1990, Violence in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Newbury Park: Sage Publications.
5 DVAW has not been duly responded by the government or the society. However, women NGOs and reformists have raised the question at the national level through media and in workshops. Women in Nepal continued to experience discrimination as a result of differential attitude of gender, which largely derives from religious and patriarchal structures. Such attitude oppressed Nepalese women, and limit and confine them to subordinate roles. 15 Daughters are regarded as a burden, economic liability and transient member in the family. Being females, women are subjected to entire range of violent acts. The patriarchal structure of the Nepalese society has accelerated the pace of DVAW and also made it complex. DVAW exists in divergent forms and patterns. It prevails everywhere and in most of the families in most common forms. General prevalence of DVAW ranges from 20 % to 50 %.16 Present research suggests that prevalence rate of DVAW for Nepal is 43.72 %. However, the rate suggested by another research on DVAW was 77 % in Nepal.17 The rate for entire North India has been calculated as - physical violence 11.5%, sexual violence 16.6% and no violence 62.9%. In Gujarat, 75% women experience physical and sexual violence, abusive language, belittlement, and threats. This large proportion resonates with high level of violence recorded in other parts of India. In 2005, 40% was recorded in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh in India.18 Michael Koening and others calculated data for Uttar Pradesh as physical violence 25.1 % and coercive sexual intercourse 30.1%.19 Due to personal nature of the case, most incidence of DVAW remain undisclosed and hardly come to the notice of general public. Even if it becomes public, people cannot interfere in it due to its recognition as entirely a personal family matter. Therefore, the problem remains in tact. Even the victims of DVAW in Nepal do not intend to take the matter to the police. Therefore, the cases of DVAW remain covered that provides perpetrators to abuse women repeatedly and indefinitely. On the other hand, there is no effective law to address the problem properly. This situation has left victims of domestic violence at the hands of the perpetrators without mercy.
The primary objective of this paper is to examine patterns and trends of DVAW in Nepal. For required data, sample survey was conducted in the Kathmandu valley during the period from October to December 2007. Data is analysed using qualitative method. Thus, this research was designed with qualitative research tools focusing on physical, sexual and
17 18 19
Punam Shrestha, 2007, ‘Violence Against Women . . . , op cit, pp. 11-17. L. Heise, 1998, ‘Violence against Women: An Integrated Ecological Framework’, Violence Against Women, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 262-290; Panda, op. cit, pp. 6-16. SAATHI and The Asia Foundation, op. cit., p. 44. Coomaraswamy: op. cit., p. 7. Michael A. Koening, Rob Stephenson, Saifuddin Ahmed, Shireen J. Jejeebhoy and Jacquelyn Campbell, January 2006, 'Individual and Contextual Determinants of Domestic Violence in North India', American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 96, No. 1, ,pp. 132-138.
6 psychological forms of DVAW. The result of data analysis represents entire scenario of DVAW in Nepal.
Selection of Samples
Kathmandu valley was selected as the study area because of its ethnic diversity and concentration of migrant population from entire country. Samples for the study were selected using random and purposive sampling techniques. Altogether 4620 samples were surveyed. Samples were selected based on the caste structure. It is because Nepalese society is structured after the notion of caste hierarchy. Samples were believed to represent the entire country. Caste and ethnicity have significant impact on DVAW in Nepal like other aspects of social sphere. Because a single caste does not represent the entire society, samples were selected from five main caste groups. Table no. 1 represents data on caste structure of selected samples. Table No: 1 Sample Structure in the Field Research Type of Samples Brahmin Kshetriya Caste status Newar Mongolian Races Untouchables Total
Source: Fieldwork Oct-Dec. 2007.
Total Samples 924 924 924 1155 693 4620
Percentage 20 20 20 25 15 100 %
Samples from Brahmin, Kshetriya and Newar castes constitute 20 % each. Mongolian ethnic group in Nepal is comprised of various sub-groups of people living in the mountain and hill regions. This group of samples represents different ethnic Mongolians in the sample structure who have 25 % strength in the sample size. The untouchables belong to the lowest rung in the caste hierarchy. They are in significant number in Nepal. Similar to the high caste Hindus, they also belong to the Aryan race. Their status in the sample structure is 15 %.
Table No: 2 Socio-economic Characteristics of Selected Samples
Characteristics Educational Status Higher School Level Uneducated Total Family Type Total Income Status (Per month) Total
Source: Fieldwork Oct-Dec. 2008.
Number of Samples 1914 1584 1122 4620 2508 2112 4620 1089 1861 1670 4620
Percentage 41.43 34.29 24.28 100 % 54.29 45.71 100 % 23.57 40.29 36.14 100 %
Nuclear Joint Higher Middle Lower
Based on the status of selected samples, their characteristics are described in table no. 2. Sample characteristics mainly focus on family type, educational status and level of income. Among the samples, 41.43 % are highly educated, 34.29 % have school education whereas rest of 24.28 % are uneducated. Although social values of the Nepalese society prefers living in joint families, the influence of modernization has led to creating nuclear families in greater number. Joint family values are breaking down. As a matter of fact, 54.29% samples live in nuclear families and rest of 45.71% still live in joint families. Family type also has certain impact on DVAW. The income characteristic of samples is divided into three segments - higher (above Rupees 10,000 = approx $ 160 per month), middle (5000 – 10,000 Rs. = $ 78 -160) and lower (below Rs. 5000 = $ 78.) income groups. Majority of samples belong to the middle-income group constituting 40.29 % followed by the lowincome group (36.14 %). The rest of the samples (23.57 %) belong to the higher income group.
Development of Research Tools
Approved research tools were adapted to collect data. Mainly a set of questionnaire and interview forms were developed for the purpose. These were the main research tools applied so far. The tools included questions related to forms, determinants, intensity and remedial measures of DVAW. Questions were pre-tested before final distribution and necessary changes were also made where it was required. Experts’ were consulted during the preparation of items.
Data Collection Procedure
8 The research pursued for the purpose to write this paper has covered a wide area. Although survey was done in the Kathmandu valley, selected samples belong to different parts of rural and urban Nepal, there by representing most parts of the country. During the survey, different aspects of DVAW were discussed and required data and information was collected. Questionnaire consisting of 16 items was distributed. Similarly, interviews were also scheduled. All the samples were explained about DVAW, purpose of the research and the test items prior to data collection. The questionnaire form provided ample information on determinants, patterns and trends, perpetrators and remedial measures of DVAW. After recollection of questionnaire forms, each form was decoded to evolve statistical data for analysis.
Data Analysis Procedure
In order to accomplish the objectives of this paper, questionnaires were distributed in 3 phases within 3 months time. Collected data was analysed by the use of total percentage. Findings of the research are presented in different tables. While interpreting data, focus was laid upon analyzing prevailing forms of DVAW, determining factors that perpetuate domestic violence and possible remedial measures to over come the problem. Data analysed so far represents to the general scenario of DVAW in Nepal. The result also suggests that it has been a serious social and family problem in Nepal.
Interpretation of Data
Collected data is displayed in tables. Certain secondary data collected and published by others are also cited for comparison in relevant places. Table No 3 Determinants of DVAW Determinants of DVAW Economic Factor Alcoholism Sex Related Components Family Matters Others Total
Source: Fieldwork Oct-Dec. 2008.
No. of Respondents 1405 1113 703 653 746 4620
% 30.41 24.08 15.22 14.14 16.15 100 %
Table no. 3 reveals the determinants of DVAW in the Nepalese context. There are factors that perpetuate violence against women in general and DVAW in particular. Economic factor is the main reason behind domestic violence. Altogether, 30.41 % cases of domestic violence occur due to financial stringency. On the other hand, alcoholism has
9 become a serious social problem in Nepal having relative impact in the family and society. Altogether, 24.08 % cases of DVAW are perpetuated due to alcoholism. Similarly, sex related components constitute 15.22 % of DVAW cases. This component is mainly related to the husband’s dissatisfaction in sexual behaviour, extra marital affairs, marital rape etc. that led to growing DVAW in Nepal. In case of wife’s extra affairs, there is the possibility that husband abandon her at once. Similarly, there are certain family matters that contribute to occurring of DVAW. Family matters refer to son preference, childlessness, re-marriage of the husband, inter family members relationship, household workload, discrimination and status and power of in-laws. It constitutes 14.14 % of all the cases of DVAW. A significant number of cases of all types also occur due to factors such as socio-cultural values of the family, status of women in the society and family, level of education of victims and actors, role of immediate neighbours and relatives, number of children and so on. These are grouped as other cases in table no. 4 , which constitutes 16.15 %. Table No 4 Prevailing Types of DVAW Category and % of DVAW Typology of Violence Minor Cases of abuse Severe assaults Battering Other Cases No Violence Total filthy and abusive language Forced sex Extra Marital affairs Marital Rape No Cases reported Total Mental Torture Devaluation of Roles and Responsibilities Verbal Abuse No Such Cases Occurred Total
Source: Fieldwork Oct-Dec. 2007.
Number of sample Cases 2345 460 300 264 1221 4620 2015 1069 660 319 557 4620 1840 1058 900 822 4620
% 50.77 9.95 7.14 5.71 26.43 100 % 43.61 23.13 14.30 6.90 12.06 100 % 39.83 22.90 19.48 17.79 100 %
Psychological 27.40 %
While dealing with domestic violence in Nepal, it needs to take notice of various socio-cultural, economic and other factors and contexts. Throughout their lives, women in
10 Nepal suffer from physical, sexual or psychological violence in the form of marital rape, forced sex, battering, kick, slap, suffocate, hit, throwing objects, push, shoving, intimidation, grabbing, domestic murder, dowry related violence and so on. The distinct social, cultural and political contexts give rise to different forms of domestic violence against women. Its prevalence and pattern are remarkably consistent and spanning national and socio-economic borders and cultural identities. It frequently stems from the same root. Violence in the domestic sphere is unfortunately often not treated by the government authorities as a serious crime. It is usually seen as a private matter.20 This is absolutely true in the Nepalese context. Table no 4 shows the prevailing types of DVAW. Different sub-types of physical (24.52 %), sexual (29.31 %) and psychological (27.40 %) violence prevail in Nepal. Various types of domestic violence exist almost in the similar magnitude. However, sexual violence is intense. Physical violence is the other common form of DVAW in Nepal. One research pursued in rural areas has pointed out that about 50 % of Nepalese women experienced physical violence at least once in their lifetime.21 However, 18.76 % respondents did not experience any form of physical violence. Similarly, 50.77 % cases are the cases of minor physical violence. Push, throw something, grab, shove and slap fall within the minor category. 9.95 % women experienced severe assault. These cases need medical attention due to severe physical injuries. Battering constitutes 7.14 % cases of DVAW. A battered woman is a woman who is beaten by her husband or the partner. The batterer systematically uses physical violence, economic subordination, threats, isolation and a variety of other controlling tactics to ensure she does what he wants her to do. It happens irrespective of educational and financial status of the perpetrator. This has been the most common way of controlling wives by a Nepalese husband. Existing social system and attitude on husbandwife relationship prevents the victims from exposing the cases or report it to the police. This situation has made it a complex violence related problem in Nepal. Other cases of physical violence constitute 5.71%. Sex is entirely a very secret and a sensitive matter among the Nepalese women, which cannot be made public at any cost. As a matter of fact, most of the cases of sexual violence remain unnoticed. Even the victims do not intend to make it public due to social prestige or whatsoever. People easily hide those incidents. During the fieldwork, a great number of samples were reluctant to refer such cases at the first instance although they have been victimized. However, later they willingly responded about sexual violence they have experienced. However, this is not always easy to procure actual data on sexual violence. Data in table no 4 shows that sexual violence within the family is a serious problem. Among the
NWGVAW (The NGO Working Group on Violence against Women), 2004, Glossary of Violence against Women to Share Understanding of Terminology, Committee on the Status of Women, p. 7. Punam Shrestha, 2005, ‘A Discussion of Domestic Violence Against Women in Nepal (in Nepali),’ Voice of History, Vol. XVII-XX, No. 1, pp. 103-110.
11 cases of sexual violence, use of filthy and abusive language against women is the most common form. Not only husbands but the in-laws also abuse using such a mean. This is common particularly among the poor families. The use of filthy and abusive words against wife or other female members in the family by senior members is a common form of abusing Nepalese women. It constitutes 43.61 % of total cases. Compelled sex is another form of violence. Altogether, 23.13 % respondents were compelled by their husbands to offer sex. It has been a common practice among the Nepalese couples. Extra marital affair is another form of sexual violence against women. It is undoubtedly the affairs by a husband. Hindu social and cultural norms ordain women to remain faithful to husbands. The changing economic status and desire for a new woman for sexual activities lead to such affair. No cases of extra marital affairs of women have been recorded during research. However, it does not mean that it never happens. However, no data on extra marital affairs of a wife was made available for analysis. About 14.30 % women have been suffering from this sort of problem. The patriarchal structure of the Nepalese society considers women as a form of property. Therefore, they must fulfill every desire of their husbands. Again, marital rape also prevails as a form of sexual violence. Some 6.90 % cases of marital rape have been noticed during the field research. However, no victim complained the case to the police. In fact, this may be a strange thing for every one in the society if such cases become public. Finally, altogether 12.06 % of women did not experience any sorts of sexual violence in the family. A large majority of Nepalese women have been abused through various forms of psychological violence. Mental torture through various means, verbal abuse and minimizing women’s roles are very common forms of psychological violence. It exists in a vast majority of families irrespective of educational background or income status. A total of 39.83 % respondents reported about mental torture due to the behaviour of their husbands, mother in laws and other family members. Verbal abuse constitutes 19.48 %. The actors are the husbands or other family members. All kinds of verbal abuse constitute 63.09 % altogether. Another research shows that 66% 22 women are verbally abused in Nepal. Some of the cases are reported to the police also. Generally, men work outside whereas women are entrusted with entire household duties. However, contribution of women in the family affairs is often devaluated. Such cases constitute 22.90 %. Out of total number of women, 17.79 % respondents did not experience any sorts of psychological violence. Following table (no. 5) discusses about the perpetrators of DVAW. Table No 5 Perpetrators of DVAW
Punam Shrestha, 2005 b, ‘A Historical and Cultural Analysis of Domestic Violence Against Women in Nepal,’ (Thesis submitted to the Department of History, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu.
12 No. of Respondents 1745 787 684 309 1095 4620
Perpetrators Female Male Relatives and / or Outsiders No answer Total
Source: Fieldwork Oct-Dec. 2007.
% 37.78 17.04 14.81 6.67 23.70 100
Husbands Family Members
Table no 5 discusses about the perpetrators of DVAW in Nepal. The main actor of DVAW is the husbands. It is believed that violence has been a way to maintain control over wives. Nepalese women are mostly abused by their husbands. 37.78 % of husbands abuse their wives through various means. Other family members also do not stay behind to act their part in DVAW. Other male members in the family constitute 14.81 % and female members constitute 17.04 % to abuse women in the family. Some relatives or the outsiders are also the perpetrators of DVAW in Nepal. They constitute about 6.67 % in total. However, some women do not want to talk about violence happened inside the family. 17.79 % of respondents kept silence on all kinds of DVAW during the research. Although DVAW is a complex family problem, there are ways that can help to correct or get rid of the problem. Table no. 6 below is intended to discuss about possible measures that can help to cope with all sorts of DVAW. However, there lacked proper legislation in Nepal until now. Table No 6 Remedial Measures of DVAW Proposed Remedies Change Perception About Women Educational / Financial Empowerment Enactment and Implementation of Laws Do not know Total
Source: Fieldwork Oct-Dec. 2007.
No. of Respondents 2766 942 760 152 4620
% 59.87 20.39 16.45 3.29 100
Educational and financial empowerment of women, enactment of laws and changing traditional perception about women are the best ways to bring positive changes in the existing situation. A great number of women (59.87%) who have been suffering from the problem believe that changes in the perception about women could help reform the situation. Hindu values have supported the patriarchal form of social structure. Thus, Nepalese society has been structured according to the norms of patriarchy. It has direct impact on gender
13 inequality. Hindu culture has a belief and practice that women should remain dependent on men. This situation has provided husbands with many opportunities to abuse their wives. The membership of women in the society has been governed by the virtue of marriage only. This situation needs changes. Women’s empowerment is an important issue for the welfare of women. 20.39% women believe that economic and educational empowerment of women could help to stop violence in the family or reform the situation. The lack of financial security prevents women from raising voice against DVAW. On the other hand, lack of education among the victims and the actors also contributed to DVAW. Enactment of appropriate laws helps mitigate volume and intensity of DVAW. Nepal still lacks laws that can properly address the problem of domestic violence against women. No existing laws in Nepal have defined DVAW. Therefore, there is still some legal discrepancy to address domestic violence. Appropriate laws are still lacking to punish the perpetrators DVAW. So, women are not protected legally against the perpetrators of DVAW. Existing subsidiary legal provisions are inadequate to address the problem. 16.45% respondents believe that enactment and implementation of laws will help to mitigate the volume and intensity of DVAW in Nepal. Finally, 3.29 % of women are ignorant of DVAW as such and its remedy. However, they also are the sufferers of DVAW in Nepal.
Conclusion, Findings and Recommendations
Domestic violence against women has been a serious social problem in Nepal. DVAW has immense impact on different aspects of Nepalese women.23 Therefore, there has been a debate among the women social workers, feminist leaders and gender specialists to overcome the problem. There are the ways that can help to lessen intensity and impact of DVAW. Even until now, the government of Nepal is very reluctant to take steps for the welfare of women and protect them from different categories of abuses. Women’s property right is inadequate and facility for personality development is also meager. Their status is very similar to that of the secondary citizen in Nepal. However, women activists have drawn attention of the entire society towards the problem of DVAW. Their activities also pressurized the government to pay attention on the problems. Women are ignored and under represented in the government bodies and other social and political institutions. The patriarchal social structure has dealt the women society with an iron hand. As a matter of fact, the male authority has turned the situation more complex in Nepal. Although the prevailing rate of DVAW (43.72 %) falls within the prevailing rate around the world, it has been a serious problem in Nepal. Therefore, it needs to draw proper attention of the
Punam Shrestha, 2007, ‘Violence Against Women . . . , op cit, pp. 11-17.
14 government to mitigate the sufferings of Nepalese women. The problem of DVAW requires proper solution for the overall development of women. Thus, in the light of findings of this paper, some recommendations are proposed as the solution of the problem.
Findings of the Research
Findings of this research are – 1 2 The prevalence of DVAW in Nepal is 43.72 %. Three types of DVAW are common in Nepal. Physical violence constitutes 24.52 %, sexual violence constitutes 29.31 % and psychological violence exists among 27.40 % women in Nepal. 3 Among various forms of physical violence, there are 50.77 % minor cases, and severe assaults constitute 9.95 %. Regarding the forms of physical violence, wife battering constitutes 7.14 %. Forms of violence not specified in this section fall within the other category, which constitutes 5.71 %. 4 Sexual violence is the common form of DVAW in Nepal comparing to other forms of domestic violence. 29.31 % of women in Nepal are exposed to sexual violence. About 43.61 % of women have been suffering from verbal sexual abuse. Forced sex with husband constitutes 23.13 %. Extra marital affair has 14.30 %. Marital rape has the least 5 strength in calculating data, which constitutes among 6.90 % of women. Psychological violence is also a common form of DVAW in Nepal. Mental torture (39.83%) is the common type of psychological violence. Verbal abuse and devaluation of women’s role and responsibilities in the household affairs constitute 19.48 % and 6 22.90 % each. Economic factor is the most effective determinant of DVAW. It constitutes 30.41% of all reported cases of domestic violence where as alcoholism and sex related components constitute 24.08 % and 15.22 % respectively. Similarly, family matters, as a determinant of DVAW constitutes 14.14%. Other factors, which includes a number of socio-cultural factors has the strength of 16.15 %. 7 In general, perpetrators of DVAW are the intimate partners or other immediate family members. In fact, 37.78 % of Nepalese husbands abuse their wives using various methods of physical, Sexual and psychological violence. Other male abusers in the family constitute 14.81 %, and 17.04 % female actor abuse other women in the family. 8 The relatives or outsiders also act as perpetrators of DVAW. They constitute 6.67 %. According to the views of the victims, 59.87 % believed that a changed perception about women and their role in the society could help correct DVAW. The perception is necessarily associated with male dominance within the patriarchal social structure. Altogether, 20.39% respondents emphasized on financial and educational empowerment of women as a remedy of all forms of DVAW. Similarly, 3.29 % of abused women have no idea on how to introduce reforms DVAW in Nepal.
There are ways that can help to correct present situation of DVAW in Nepal. Some of the recommendations are – 1. Women’s economic empowerment will help mitigate DVAW. 2. The government needs to lay focus on female education to improve their status. 3. Women’s social status should be raised and recognized. 4. The household and other roles of women must be duly recognized. 5. Women’s financial dependency on husbands must be overviewed and government should provide employment for women. 6. Nepalese women in both rural and urban areas must be aware of prevailing forms of VAW and DVAW. For this purpose, government and women NGOs should organize awareness camps, trainings etc. 7. Promulgation of new laws on DVAW and amend existing legal provisions. 8. Government should establish special units to deal with DVAW. 9. Needs to set up special courts for prompt action and provide justice to the victim, and 10. Government or other organizations should establish shelters for victims.
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