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Punam Shrestha

Violence Against Women

In recent years, violence against women (VAW) has gained greater public acknowledgment in South

Asia. There is a vast array of violence that exists and surface repeatedly in the region.
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women -
1993 (UNDEVAW) defines violence against women as

Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harms

or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether

occurring in public or in private life.1

This definition refers to the gender based roots of violence, recognizing that violence against women

is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with

men. It broadens the definition of violence by including both the physical and psychological harm done to

women. It includes acts in both private and public life.2 The Declaration defines violence against women as

encompassing, but not limited to, three areas: violence occurring in the family, within the general community,

and violence perpetrated or condoned by the stale. Domestic violence, as defined for this, includes violence

perpetrated by intimate partners and other family members and manifested through.3 The term domestic

violence covers a wide range of unacceptable behaviour within the family and takes many forms, emotional or

psychological abuse as well as physical assault. Indirect violence (threats, verbal abuse and denigration) may

be, in certain cases, as detrimental as actual violence.4 It is a serious crime and public health concern that

can include physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse of one current or former intimate partner by

Nepal has also facing this problem but denial of its scope and seriousness remains widespread.6 The

international community has recognized that VAW is a violation of womens human rights, their bodily integrity
and their sexual and reproductive rights. Violence is a tool of terror, and its use can be seen to relate directly to

male assumptions about privileged access and ownership. If women speak out against the violence

perpetrated against them they are often blamed for its occurrence and forced to carry the burden of shame. If

the violence is hidden to avoid dishonoring the family, then again, it is the woman

who bears the burden of silence and social isolation. 7 It has been acknowledged that promotion of womens

rights is a means to ensure sustainable development.8 At present, VAW is widely recognized as a human rights

and public health issue. Among other factors, domestic violence contributes to poor quality of living standards

as well as indirectly causes negative psychosocial health outcomes.9 Reviewing data on wife beating and

battering from 14 societies around the world groups them into four levels, from essentially none to High.

South Asia falls within the high category.10 Not only in terms of physical violence, has South Asia been

repeatedly identified to have the highest rates of different forms of VAW. In fact, the worst manifestations of

gender-based violent are observed in South Asia. This is known to be the most gender insensitive region in the

Present Situation of Domestic Violence in Nepal

It is estimated that the total population of Nepal is 22,903,598. Female population constitutes

11,466,500 (50.65%) as against the total population.12 The dominant Hindu culture has emphasized on the sub-

ordinate roles of women in the society. Men are considered the sole breadwinners of families and women are

viewed only as domestic and maternal.13 Generally, women are confined to household affairs. Their main

responsibilities are thought to include cooking, washing collecting fuel and firewood, fetching water, engaging in

agriculture, maternity and service to male family members.14 The workload of Nepalese women is immense.

Nepalese women work about 11 hours every day but womens domestic contributions has not been

recognized. Male members control family income Women have been also deprived of equal property rights.

Absence of property rights given to women creates for them an environment of violence.15

A research conducted by SAATHI, a NGO working for women in Nepal, revealed that 73% cases of

domestic violence against women in Nepal are due to economic dependency.16 That economic dependency

created by discriminatory property laws has forced women to tolerate domestic violence.17 If the husband kicks

her out of his house, such women have nowhere to go. In the male dominated practical family womens and

girls lives are in danger from conception onwards. Simply because they are female, their value has been

considered less than that of men. It lies in their sexual and reproductive service as well as the labor they

provide under control of men.18 Their function is to perpetuate mens family names, their honour and power.

The slightest perceived insult to a mans honour and control can be the cause far him to beat or kill his wife or
daughter, they may also be denied access to opportunities for the fear that their sexuality will be abused and

bring shame to the men in their families.19

Nepal is culturally and developmentally heterogeneous as is the situation of women and the girl child.

In Nepal, women and girls force discrimination that compromises their fundamental rights to survival, growth

development, protection and participation.20All


constitutions in Nepal contain basic provisions on fundamental rights including the right to equality and non-

discrimination. Consequently, they have an ideological basis for protecting women against violence that is

gender based.21

However, there are differences in approach concerning the scope and enforcement of those rights in

providing redress and relief to women victims and effective preventive measures.22 Nevertheless, women and

girls in Nepal continue to experience discrimination as a result of gender differential attitudes that derive largely

from religious cultural, economic, political and patriarchal structures that oppress women and which limit and

confine them to subordinate role.23 Nepalese women face discriminatory laws and practices with particularly

extreme repercussions on their vulnerability to violence. Son preference is common in Nepal. Daughters are

viewed as a burden, as an economic liability, as transient members of their families and as the property of

others24 because they are female, women and adolescent girls are subject to the entire range of violent acts

against women. These acts can take place within the precincts of the home-a place often associated with

warmth and security by known perpetrations or outside the home by strangers.25 VAW therefore often goes

unrecognized and unreported and in Nepal, domestic violence is still accepted as a private matter within the

family. When violation takes place elsewhere, as is often the case, it is normally condoned silently by other

family members and the law enforcement agencies.26 It is important to note that there lacked interest on the

part of the state to cope with such a serious problem. It has tended to make the problem complex.
Nature of Violence Against Women in Nepal

Females can experience violence at any or all stages of the life cycle. The extreme form of VAW is

physical and sexual abuse. Physical violence includes but is not limited to scratching, pushing, shoving,

throwing grabbing, biting, choking, shaking, poking, hair pulling, slapping, punching hitting, burning, the use of

restraints or ones body size or strength against another person and the use of a weapon.27

The Recommendation 1582 (2002) adapted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council

is about the policies on Domestic violence against women. The very first clause mentions -28

Domestic violence is the most common form of violence against women in Nepal. Its consequences

affect many areas of the lives of victims housing, health, education and the freedom to live their lives without

fear and in the way, they wish. This widespread phenomenon is common to all European countries and is not
limited to any particular social group or class. Domestic violence can take a number of forms such as physical

assault, sexual abuse and rape, threats and intimidation. It should be recognised as a crime.

The policy emphasizes on seriousness of domestic violence in Europe. In fact, not only in Europe, it is

a serious problem around the globe irrespective of economic status of a country.

As in other South Asian countries, violence against women in Nepal has diverse forms.29 It has

become a serious social problem to be addressed soon. The attempt of Nepalese women to raise their

voice against violence and call for equal property or other rights is still in its early stage. Although such

attempts initiated by NGOs could not bring complete transformation of the scenario, its result, response in the

society is quite encouraging. We hope that it will soon bring drastic changes in the Nepalese society in terms of


Among other forms of violence, abuse of women in the pretext of witch and killing them has been

common in rural areas in the southern plains. Women branded as witches have been the victims of torture also

causing death. Expulsion from the village, hate of the family members is quite common in Nepali society.30

Besides, feeding human excreta, charging weapons, powering boiling water all over the body, shaving heads,

beating with nettle and water, tearing apart the wearing clothes, burning with hot appliance are the

contemptible torture the women have to bear in the name of a witch. The case of Marani Devi is a living

example of that.31

The dowry death has also begun in Nepal, however it is still rare comparing to the number cases

detected in India. Still there is the possibility of such cases within Nepal. Dowry is a form of marital payment

from the brides family to the groom and his family. There is an implication that if the brides family provides the

disputed dowry the familys daughter will be spared future violence.32 Because the grooms entire family

benefits financially from the payment of dowry, domestic violence related to dowry often involves more than

one perpetrator in the grooms family.33

Incest is one the most hidden forms of child abuse. An attempt made by SAATHI in Nepal to study

incest proved that it is extremely difficult to identify these cases and victims who are identified are generally not

willing to talk about their experiences.34 The magnitude of marital rape in Nepal is astounding. Many of the

women married off. Therefore, cases of forceful intercourse prior to menarche are not at all uncommon.35

In Nepal, historical factors sometimes predispose some communities to accept trafficking, for

example, selling sex is common for theBadi andD eu ki castes in Nepal.36An ever-increasing number of

Nepalese girls and women are being sold into sexual bondage across national borders. Their families are often

responsible for this. Most of the victims of trafficking are the young rural women. The exact number of Nepali
women in this position in India is not known; however, the figure of 200000 has been reported, with about

45000 in Mumbai alone.37

The problems of rape and sexual harassment are on increased in job places. Women who try to work

any way or who are already on their own and must work, often face gender violence at work, as well as from

men in the family.38 In any case, there are discriminatory and exploitative conditions for most women workers

that deny them equal remuneration, benefits and treatment. This is also a form of gender violence at a different

level.39It has been noted that suicide is 12 times as likely to have been attempted by a woman who has been

abused than those who are not yet abused.40 Psychological violence is also a major health issue. In global

studies it has been noted that. However, this issue is not well researched in Nepal and unfortunately it has not

been paid due attention by the governments, physicians and health care providers.41

Early marriage for girls is more a norm than an exception in Nepal. Violent sexual initiation is common

in such marriages and may have far-reaching effects on marital relationship as well.42

Ms. Punam Shrestha is a historian and a sociologist. She has pursued researches and published
numerous papers on different aspects of domestic violence and violence against women in Nepal.

UN Declaration on Elimination of Violence Against Women, Resolution no. A/Res/48/106,

23 Feb, 1994; International Commitments to Eliminate Violence Against Women, nsf(symbol)/a

Domestic Violence Against Women and Girl, Italy: UNICEF, Innocenti Research Center,
2000, pp. 8-9.

For intimate partner violence see: Cris M. Sullivan and Mary Keefe, Evaluations of
Women,; William
L. Parish, Tianfu Wang, Edward O. Laumann, Suiming Pan and Ye Luo, Intimate Partner
Violence in China: National Prevalence, Risk Factors and Associated Health Problems,
International Family Planning Perspectives Vol. 30, No. 4, Dec. 2004, pp. 174-181; Roberta
K. Lee, Vetta L. Sanders Thompson and Mindy B. Mechanic, Rural Health and Women of
Color: Intimate Partner Violence and Women of Color: A Call for Innovations,A me rican
Journal of Public Health, Vol. 92, No. 4, April 2002, pp. 530-534.

Aisha Gill, Voicing the Silent Fear: South Asian Womens Experiences of Domestic
Violence, The Howard Journal, Vol. 43, No 5, December 2004, p. 466.

Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, 'Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence -
Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey, Washington: National Institute of Justice
and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2000, p. 55.

Ruchira Tabassum Naved, 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, 2003, pp. 1-3

Gill, f. n. no. 4, p. 479.


Domestic Violence Against , f. n. no. 2, pp. 8-9.


Christine Chan,'The Quality of Life of Women of Chinese Origin', Health and Social Care
in the Community, 8 (3), 2000, pp. 212222

Naved, f. n. no. 6.


Population Report of Nepal, Kathmandu: Ministry of Population and Environment, 2000, p.


Discriminatory Laws in Nepal and Their Impact on Women, Kathmandu: Forum for
Women, Law and Development, 2000, pp. 1-2.


Financial and Legal Rights of Women Necessity and Justification of Amendment in the
Existing Law (in Nepali), Kathmandu: Forum for Women, Law and Development, 2061
B.S., pp. 1-2

SAATHI and the Asia Foundation, A Situational Analysis of Violence Against Women and
Girls in Nepal, Katmandu: SAATHI, 1997, p. 24.

For details on domestic violence see: Violence Against Women Challenges and Prospect: A
Case Study of the Kingdom of Nepal,; Sapana Pradhan Malla
and Yubaraj Sangroula, Report on Violence Against Women, A report submitted to the UNICEF Nepal,
Kathmandu, 1997; Niranjan P. Upadhyaya, 'Domestic Violence in the Context of Nepal',Inform al, Vol.
16, No. 4, 2003; Sujita Shakya, Violence Against Women and Attempts to Eradicate (in Nepali),Prachi
Vol. 36, Kathmandu, 2058 B.S.; Nepal country
report on Human Rights Practice for 1998, U S Department of State,www. mahilawe b.o rg/
violence/facts-figures.htm; Ministry of Women and Social Welfare/HMGN, Program for
Encountering Violence Against Women (draft prepared for the Ninth Five-Year Plan), Kathmandu, 1996;
Punam Shrestha, A Discussion of Domestic Violence Against Women in Nepal (in Nepali), Voice of
History, Vol. XVII-XX, No. 1. 2005; Punam Shrestha, A Historical and Cultural Analysis of Domestic
Violence Against Women in Nepal, (Thesis submitted to the Department of History, Tribhuvan University
(Kathmandu) 2005; Punam Shrestha, An Analysis of Domestic Violence against Women (in Nepali),Rol
amb a, Vol. 25, Nos. 1-4, 2006; Punam Shrestha, Violence Against Women and Public Health Issues in
the Context of Nepal,Rol a mba, Vol. 27, Nos. 1~4, 2007.

Usha Sharma, Gender Mainstreamining and Women's Rights, Delhi, Worldwide Circulation
Through Author Press Global Network, 2004 B. S., pp. 952-157.

M.K. Roy, Violence Against Women New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishes, 2000, pp. 214-

Domestic Violence in Nepal, Minnesota: Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, 1998, pp.


Discriminatory Laws in Nepal and Their Impact on Women, f. n. no. 13, pp. 7-9.




Law to Control Domestic Violence: A Necessity (in Nepali), Kathmandu: Forum for Women,
Law and Development, n. d., pp. 1-7. For further details on legal aspects on domestic violence in Nepal
see: Sapana Pradhan Malla, Country Report Nepal, in Marilou McPhedran, Susan Bazilli, Moana
Erickson and Andrew Byrnes (eds.), The First CEDAW
Impact Study Final Report, Toronto: Centre for Feminist Research, York University and the
International Womens Right Project, 2000, pp. 77-122.

Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations, 1582 (2002) - Domestic


001Factsheet.asp. The Council of Europe has taken several steps in order to lower domestic
violence in Europe. For this purpose, The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has adopted
a series of recommendations and resolutions on the theme of violence against women as part of the
campaign to combat domestic violence against women in Europe. This could be a very good model to
combat domestic violence in Asia. For details on recommendations and resolutions see: Combating
Violence Against Women, (2006)3_E.pdf


For violence in India see: Nata Duvvury, Domestic Violence in India: A Summary Report of
Four Records Studies, ICRW Research Report, 2000; Nata Duvvury, Men, Masculinity and
domestic Violence in India: Summary of Report of Four Studies, ICRW Research report,

Prekshya Ojha, 'Fighting Boksi: A Challenge in Nepal,Infor mal, Vol. 16, No. 4,
Kathmandu: 2003, P. 6-7.


Domestic Violence in Nepal, f. n. no. 20, p. 18.

critical review on domestic violence against women in nepal - Document Transcript

1. Domestic Violence against Women in Nepal: An Analysis from Feminist Perspective (Research Paper) For Partial
Fulfillment of the M.Phil in Population Studies (Theory and Practice in Demography pop-601) By Mukesh Kumar
Mishra Exam Roll No-10 Submitted to Central Department of Population Studies Tribhuvan University Kirtipur,
Kathmandu December, 2009
2. Abstract Domestic violence against women in Nepal is not a myth, but a reality. It exists and exists everywhere in
Nepalese society. There is no woman who has not suffered at one time or another harassment, humiliation,
exploitation and violence that shadow her sex. In this paper an attempt is made to explore the level and magnitude of
domestic violence in Nepal as well as identify the causes and consequences of domestic violence and finally with the
help of these information critically analyze the status of feminism in Nepal. This is a descriptive research which sheds
light on the status of domestic violence against women in Nepal from feminist perspective. The study is based on
secondary source of information. The study reveals that there is no one single factor to account for violence
perpetrated against women. Women in Nepal are not a homogenous group; they belong to the rich, middle and poor
classes and are from different cultural and ethnic minority groups. Economic dependence is the most causal factor for
the domestic violence against women (DVAW). Social and cultural influences also contribute to DVAW. The
consequence of DVAW has affected all sectors of human development negatively. There is no one single factor to
account for violence perpetrated against women. Women in Nepal are not a homogenous group; they belong to the
rich, middle and poor classes and are from different cultural and ethnic minority groups. Economic dependence is the
most causal factor for the domestic violence against women (DVAW). Social and cultural influences also contribute to
DVAW. The consequence of DVAW has affected all sectors of human development negatively. The consequence
discussed above demand further studies on this field. So that constructive solutions could be explore and
implemented for reducing such evils. .. Violence committed by family members within the family home is the most
serious and disgusting of all types of violence. The paper concludes with emphasizing on public awareness and strict
implementation of laws to overcome this issue on time. 1) Introduction For individuals all over the world, home is a
safe haven, yet it is at home that many people, all over the world, are subjected to heinous crimes of terror and
violence and even death at the hands of family members who are suppose to love and protect them. They are
victimized physically, sexually and psychologically. However, when the abuse is inside the home, it is condoned by a
large part of the society, State and law enforcement machinery. Though domestic violence is a form of violence that
occurs inside the home, in context with Nepal, like in almost all the South Asian countries domestic violence is one of
the many forms of gender based violence. Gender based violence is present in every country, though there are
variations to the patterns of violence. It cuts across boundaries of countries, class, caste, age, education, income,
ethnicity and culture. Even though most countries have criminalized violence against women, domestic violence
against women is still prevalent and sanctioned under the disguise of cultural practices or through the
misinterpretation of religious texts. It not only needs to be eliminated because it is detrimental to the physical and
mental health of women, but it also 2
3. violates the basic fundamental human rights of women. Other reasons for eliminating domestic violence are the cost
to society: directly through use of social services, police investigation and medical care; and also indirect cost
because of decreased productivity level (economically) and decreased participation level (socially). It is also insidious
because of its inter-generational effect, reducing enjoyment of life for the future generation and transmitting violence
to the next generation. The prevalence of domestic violence against women in the country is an open secret;
however, Nepal does not have separate law addressing domestic violence against women. In Nepal, violence against
women is one of the major factors responsible for the poor health of women, livelihood insecurity, and inadequate
social mobilization. The magnitude of gender-based violence in Nepal is extremely high. Several research projects in
Nepal have indicated that 66 percent of women have endured verbal abuse, 33 percent emotional abuse, while 77
percent of the perpetrators were family members (UNICEF, 2001). This indicates that even the home is not a safe
place for women. Social relations of power place women in a subordinate position, giving many women few rights in
the family, community and society in general. In addition, in the context of political conflict, women have often
become the target of violence. Because women are made the objects of revenge, there has been an increase in
sexual assault and sexual harassment. Violence against women (VAW) is a worldwide problem, crossing cultural,
geographic, religious, social and economic boundaries. It has recognized as an important issue on the international
level for the first time in 1979, when the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
(CEDAW) was adopted. The main theme of the convention was to eliminate all forms of discrimination against
women. VAW was then given more attention at the UN World Conference on Human Rights (1993), the international
Conference on Population and Development (1994), the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1994) and
Millennium Development Goals (2000). Today VAW is widely recognized as a human rights and public health issues.
Very often we hear and press reveals how the women residing in urban and rural areas are being persecuted or
tortured both physically and mentally. Countless acts of violence are perpetrated on women and children ranging
from domestic violence, battering, marital rape and dowry related violence, prenatal sex selection in favor of male
babies, female infanticide, rape, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation, including trafficking and forced
prostitution. Moreover in situations of armed conflict, women and girls are increasingly targeted for attack,
mistreatment and in some cases rape as well. 3
4. 2) Objectives. The main objective of this study is to explore the level and magnitude of domestic violence in Nepal as
well as identify the causes and consequences of domestic violence and finally with the help of these information
critically analyze the status of feminism in Nepal. 3) Forms of VAW Violence against women is a common occurrence
in most societies whether the violence is physical or mental. Women and girls are generally looked down upon,
trapped within cultural framework, molded by rigid perceptions of patriarchy. As a result violence against women is
viewed as a normal phenomenon even from the womens perspective. Nepalese women suffer multiple forms of
violence including domestic violence, rape, dowry deaths, sexual harassment, suicide, forced marriage, trafficking
and other psychological and financial oppression. Violence against women has become one of the most visible social
issues in this region. In addition to the common problems of violence against women in Nepal have particular cultural
and religious practices that also emphasize the problem of VAW in the region. The general low status of women in
the region and the entrenched nature of discriminatory structures have led to what is seen as a lifecycle of VAW. All
these various forms of violence, mentioned above may take place in private and public arena, committed by family
members or strangers. According to WHO the nature of violence acts against women may be: Physical Sexual
Psychological Involving deprivation or neglect In exploring VAW it is quite useful to use the life-cycle approach as it
is often a cycle of abuse that manifests itself in several forms throughout womens lives. Even before a girl is born she
risks becoming a target of sex selective abortion. During childhood girls face neglect, discrimination and abuse, which
are often manifested in infanticide, differential access to food, health care, and education, incest and sexual abuse.
During adolescence and reproductive periods of life she undergoes sexual harassment and violence both in private
and public spheres and has to accept marriage under duress. During this time she may experience marital rape,
physical and 4
5. psychological violence, coerced pregnancy and abortion. In old age, women suffer from violence mostly in the form of
deprivation of support and care (UNICEF, 2001). Violence during life cycle Phase Types of violence present Prenatal
Sex selective abortion Violence against pregnant mothers which affects the foetus Infancy Female infanticide
Physical sexual and psychological abuse Childhood Child marriage Female genital mutilation Physical, sexual
and psychological abuse Incest; child prostitution and pornography Adolescence Courtship violence,
Economically coerced sex, Sexual abuse/ harassment in the workplace, rape, forced prostitution Reproductive age
Partner abuse Marital rape Dowry related crimes and murder Forced abortion Psychological and sexual
harassment in the workplace, rape, forced prostitution Abuse and rape of women with disabilities Old age Forced
suicide or homicide of widows for economic reasons Sexual, physical and psychological abuse Source: (WHO,
1997) 4) Violence against Women in Nepal: An overview Violence committed by family members within the family
home is the most serious and disgusting of all types of violence. It is a global issue. Women of all economic strata are
vulnerable to maltreatment and abuse by husbands, in-laws, and other family members. This is a common
phenomenon especially in joint/poor family. Available data suggests that the number of cases of domestic violence is
increasingly being reported in the newspaper. An overview of crimes against women in New Delhi from 1984 to 1994
concluded that most crimes against women were committed more within the confines of a home and not out on the
streets [A] home is no longer a safe place for a woman whether it is the natal home or the marital home (Hayward
R.F., 2000). As a South Asian country, Nepal is no an exception regarding the issue of VAW. Violence against
women is amongst the most serious threats to overall development and progress in Nepal. Widespread violence and
repression in numerous forms puts womens lives at risk in almost all 5
6. parts of the country. This is further compounded by the gender bias against women in the society. Before discussing
the nature and extent of violence against women it is important to focus on the general socio-economic and legal
rights of women in Nepal. Women in Nepal are not a homogenous group; they belong to the rich, middle and poor
classes and are from different cultural and ethnic minority groups. They are also differentiated by rural and urban
settings. Although women constitute half of the population, various indicators reveal that the status of women is much
lower than that of men. Their literacy rate is only 42.8 percent, much lower than that of men 65.5 (CBS, 2003).
Despite constitutional guarantees of gender equality and legislative and other affirmative interventions, the status of
Nepali women is on the whole miserable. Women are subjected to discrimination and violence within the household,
at the workplace and in the society. Their inferior status can be traced to the patriarchal values entrenched in the
society which keep women subjugated, assigns them a subordinate and dependent role, and, prevents them from
accessing power and resources. Men hold the power and resource within families and control any property and family
income. Women are considered as mens property, their sexual activity, income and labor being systemically
controlled by the men in their family. 5) Domestic Violence against Women in Nepal Widespread violence and
repression in numerous forms puts womens lives at risk in almost all parts of the country. Thus, before going into the
discussion of domestic violence the definition must be clarified. Statutory definitions of domestic violence vary from
state to state. Domestic violence, understood in a rather narrow dimension of violence, implies violence against
female member/s of a particular family. The term domestic connotes something done within the four walls of
individual households. Such violence could be of various kinds - physical, mental and sexual- all assaulting the
freedom of women. Sexual harassment and mental exploitation of the victim, both indoor and outdoor also come
within the dimension of the term. Bill of domestic violence Act, 2059 defines: Any act of violence physical or mental
to family member by family member (FWLD, nd). Domestic violence is sometimes referred to as intimate violence. It
includes violence that occurs in dating and courtship relationships. Violence in the domestic sphere is usually
perpetrated by males who are, or who have been, in positions of trust and intimacy and power husbands,
boyfriends, fathers, fathers-in-law, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, sons, or other relatives. Domestic violence is in most
cases violence perpetrated by men against women. Women can also be violent, but their 6
7. actions account for a small percentage of domestic violence. However, different published news, police and hospital
records indicate that the majority of victims of domestic violence are women; some experts use the term violence
toward women to refer to domestic violence. Despite the severe consequences to women's physical and emotional
health, domestic violence is not recognized as a serious social problem and society does not perceive domestic
violence to be a serious crime. Rather, it is viewed as a personal matter that should be resolved privately within the
family. As a result, law enforcement agencies are reluctant to get involved in cases of domestic violence and women
are often victimized with no recourse. The implicit indifference of society in matters of domestic violence perpetuates
the notion that domestic violence is legitimate and male domination in the family is acceptable. While men take
advantage of this right to exert authority, women's tolerance of domestic violence further entrenches domestic
violence into the fabric of daily life in Nepal. Domestic violence and more specifically spousal abuse is the most
endemic form of gender based violence in all part of the world. It is a widespread but unreported problem not only in
Nepal but all over the world. Data on the issue is hard to come by as there are very few studies on the subject.
Violence within the family takes different forms. Studies differentiate between acts of physical aggression, such as
battering by intimate partners, fathers or brothers; sexual abuse of female children and young women in the
household by family members; dowry-related violence; marital rape; and other traditional practices harmful to women.
It also covers abuse of domestic workers including- involuntary confinement; physical brutality; slavery-like
conditions; sexual assault. Violence in the family often goes unreported and statistics are incomplete. Patriarchal
societies where men control all decisions result in greater violence when women seem to question or go outside the
framework of such decisions. Thus it is clear that family violence is the predominant type of violence carried out
against women. As Gelles and Straus have rightly pointed out, you are likely to be physically assaulted, beaten,
and killed in your own home at the hands of loved one than any place else, or by anyone else. This is a fact, which
may seem extremely difficult to accept as family has always been believed to be the primary source of love, care and
support. Naturally, questions arise; why women are silent and do not speak out against domestic violence? Why do
so many victims continue to stay with abusive spouses? First, one has to bear in mind the social context in which
women are raised. Nepali women, as part of a patriarchal society, are from 7
8. an early age, taught to be submissive, tolerant, and self-sacrificing. Furthermore, the social belief that a woman's
place is in her husband's home is also deeply rooted in women's self-view and self- worth. In a social context where
women crossing the four walls of their homes are considered to be of loose moral character, it is difficult for them to
report any form of violence against them at home. Thus these social values make it extremely difficult for women to
assert themselves and speak out against domestic violence. In cases of marital and family conflict, society generally
places the blame on the wife and holds her exclusively responsible for failing to build a strong foundation in the
family. Consequently, women are reluctant to complain of domestic violence or file cases against their husbands out
of fear of unrelenting social stigmatization. A second major reason that women rarely assert themselves in these
matters is that women have few alternatives to staying with their husbands. In some cases a woman might return to
her paternal home and find shelter with her parents or siblings, but in most cases, women lack family or community
support. With no alternative, women realize that they have no choice but to tolerate domestic violence and make the
best of their tragic situation. Women's unequal access to political life and economic participation provided firm
foundations for the ideology of gender difference. The dominant representations of gender relations stressed the
naturalness and legitimacy of male authority and minimized the role of coercion. Yet coercion, and frequently its
violent manifestation, regularly encouraged women to accept their subordinate status. 6) Magnitude of DVAW in
Nepal Not all women were beaten and raped, although many more may have been than the complacent self-image of
bourgeois society would suggest. But even the most self-sewing celebrations of the progress of chivalry and civility
allowed that the inviolability of women depended upon male protection and female compliance with the prescribed
female roles. DVAW, including beatings by husbands, dowry-related murders, and physical and psychological
harassment by families is still prevalent in Nepal. According to Dhan Kumari Sunuwar, a member of the National
Women's Commission (NWC) Of the total incidence of violence against women, domestic violence constitutes over
80%. Among the various causes of domestic violence, dowry- related hostilities, second marriage by husbands,
assaults on women accused of being witches, and disputes involving properties top the list, she added (Dhakal,
2008). 8
9. Almost every day, newspapers in the country report cases of domestic violence against women. WOREC has
published a report based on analysis of cases of violence recorded in between mid February and mid May, 2008. In
this report it has mentioned that 36 incidents reported by four major Nepal Daily newspapers during this period..
Similarly Of those, 38 percent violence related cases were reported in Nepal Samacharpatra, while Kantipur daily
reported 28 percent. Similarly, Gorkhapatra carried 25 percent of such reports and Annapurna Post carried nine
percent. The study team also collected 891 cases of violence against women from government and non
governmental organizations. Furthermore, the report based on 177 cases from several districts in the country also
shows that A majority of women who are victims of violence are women of productive age. Of the total of the victims
(177 cases) 65 percent are between 16-35 years. About 53 percent of the cases related to domestic violence. Among
the victims, 44 percent are married. Similarly about 45 percent of the women were literate (The Kathmandu Post, 16
June, 2008). Nepal Human Development Report 2004, as well then, reinforces domestic violence to be a grave and
unaddressed problem. But the government is still to enact a law to prohibit domestic violence and develop
comprehensive legal and administrative measures to support women who have been abused in their own homes.
Most perpetrators of domestic violence escape persecution under the Nepali criminal justice system. Though the
National Human Rights Commission works actively on the issue, other human rights concerns in this war-torn country
take precedence. Research in 2000 by a non-government organization SAATHI revealed 66 per cent of the women in
the country endure verbal abuse, 33 per cent emotional abuse, and 77 per cent of the perpetrators of violence to be
family members. Fifty eight percent of women who suffered domestic violence confirmed daily abuse. A UNICEF
(2001) study confirms these findings. Social, cultural, economic and religious factors reiterate male dominance and
allow systematic discrimination and violence to pervade womens lives. It is extremely difficult for a woman to prove
that she is being abused within her home in Nepal. Women who do decide to come forth and demand justice face an
uphill task. Unless community attitudes change and people recognize violence against women to be a crime, women
will continue to suffer daily abuse at the hands of their partners and within their very homes. Home is not a safe place
for women, yet women and children have no other choice than to stay at home with the perpetrator. Women remain
vulnerable 9
10. and largely dependent on men and this makes extremely difficult for a woman to report that she is being abused
within her home (SATHI, 2000). Wife beating is the most commonly occurring act of domestic violence in Nepal. It is
common knowledge that husbands exert their authority and physically assault wives for even minor mistakes, such as
an unsatisfactory meal, an untidy room, a conversation with another man, or any act of disagreement or
disobedience. Men have been socially conditioned to genuinely believe in their own superiority. From childhood they
are treated differently from their sisters. They grow to believe that they are more valuable and more deserving than
women and that there opinion and views should have more weight than any woman's. Men are able to delude
themselves into believing that abuse of their wives completely justified in their actions. This is also supported by the
survey results of MoHP, 2007, on attitude towards wife beating among men and women. Women and men were
asked whether a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife in each of the following five situations: if she burns
food; if she argues with him; if she goes our without telling him; if she neglects the children; and if she refuses to have
sexual intercourse with him. In this regards about 23 percent of women believe that a husband is justified in beating
his wife for at least one the specified reasons whereas among the men about one-fifth of them agree with at least one
of the reasons for why justified in beating his wife. This shows that the women who believes that a husband is
justified in hitting or beating his wife, for any of the five specified reasons may consider herself to be low status or
dependency both absolutely and relative to men . 7) Feminist perspective on VAW Women are the source of creation
on the earth. A woman creates life, nurtures it, guards and strengthens it. In their task as mother they play a vital role
in the development of society. When a woman is created out of fear and abuse, her pain is passed on to the next
generation. When a woman is created out of strength and security, her love is her gift to all humankind. Despite the
above fact, women are abused in every sphere of society. Every day, women are battered, sexually harassed,
abused, raped and psychologically tortured in the home, the workplace and the society. Domestic Violence against
women starts at womb and remains up to tomb. The charisma of medical inventions has awarded the victimizers to
identify the female at womb and hence feticide has become a major problem in modern Nepalese society. Boys are
preferred to girls. 10
11. There are many cases the girl baby is not welcomed by her parents, what to talk about the other members of the
family. Domestic violence against women in Nepal is not a myth, but a reality. It exists and exists everywhere in
Nepalese society. There is no woman who has not suffered at one time or another harassment, humiliation,
exploitation and violence that shadow her sex. Thus it looks strange that a companion in a mans life from womb to
tomb, in the role of mother, sister, lover, wife and daughter is the worst sufferer. It is a generally accepted
psychological aspect that being out of the home is always potential threat to women hence due defensive or
protective measures is taken by everyone. What will happen to women if she is ill-treated in her own house by her
nearest and dearest? The interim constitution of Nepal has granted equal rights to all citizens of Nepal. But it is an
irony that women are still in pathetic conditions. At home the teaching is such that girls are physically weak, they
should not act as boy, they are protected by men, and they are made dependent of men. Women are kept in control
since their childhood. They are not allowed to move freely, their wishes and goals are killed at childhood only. Since it
has become customs and believes so most of the women take it as divine rule, and accepts all kind of discriminations
and abuses. Domestic violence has long been considered a private matter by bystanders - including neighbors, the
community and government. But such private matters have a tendency to become public tragedies. Nepalese society
has a tendency to ignore domestic violence. The social response to domestic violence has always prevented women
from talking about the violence they face at home. Also we tend to believe that domestic violence only refers to
physical abuse of women and often ignore sexual, economic and mental form of violence being inflicted on them
inside their homes. 8) Causes and Consequences of Domestic Violence against Women There is no one single factor
to account for violence perpetrated against women. Several complex and interconnected institutionalized social and
cultural factors have kept women particularly vulnerable to the violence directed at them, all of them manifestations of
historically unequal power relations between men and women. Factors contributing to these unequal power relations
include: socioeconomic forces, the family institution where power relations are enforced, fear of and control over
female sexuality, belief in the inherent superiority of males, and legislation and cultural sanctions that have
traditionally denied women and children an independent legal and social status. Lack of economic resources
underpins womens vulnerability to violence and their difficulty in extricating themselves from a violent relationship.
The link between violence and lack of economic 11
12. resources and dependence is circular. On the one hand, the threat and fear of violence keeps women from seeking
employment, or, at best, compels them to accept low-paid, home-based exploitative labour. And on the other, without
economic independence, women have no power to escape from an abusive relationship (Schuler et. al, 1996). The
causes of domestic violence in Nepal are deeply rooted and complex. As in many countries no single factor explains
why men and women assault and abuse their partners. The root causes of DVAW lie in societys attitudes toward and
practices of gender discrimination, which place women in a subordinate position in relation to men. Because most
victims of intimate violence are women, researchers who analyze social factors contributing to spouse abuse often
focus on the role of women in society. Many aspects of an individuals attitudes and behaviour, as well as past
experiences, can influence his risk of using violence. Factors That Perpetuate Domestic Violence Gender-specific
socialization Cultural definitions of appropriate sex roles Expectations of roles within relationships Belief in the
inherent superiority of males Cultural Values that give men proprietary rights over women and girls Notion of the
family as the private sphere and under male control Customs of marriage (bride price/dowry) Acceptability of
violence as a means to resolve conflict Womens economic dependence on men Limited access to cash and credit
Discriminatory laws regarding inheritance, property rights, use of Economic communal lands, and maintenance after
divorce or widowhood Limited access to employment in formal and informal sectors Limited access to education
and training for women Lesser legal status of women either by written law and/or by practice Laws regarding
divorce, child custody, maintenance and inheritance Legal Legal definitions of rape and domestic abuse Low levels
of legal literacy among women Insensitive treatment of women and girls by police and judiciary Under-
representation of women in power, politics, the media and in the legal and medical professions Domestic violence
not taken seriously Political Notions of family being private and beyond control of the state Risk of challenge to
status quo/religious laws Limited organization of women as a political force Limited participation of women in
organized political system (Source: Heise. 1994) 12
13. 9) Consequences of Domestic Violence against Women Perhaps the most crucial consequence of violence against
women and girls is the denial of fundamental Impact on children Children who witnesshuman rights to women and
girls. domestic violence, in a sense, is themselves abused. These children get victimized of health and behaviour
problems, including problems with their weight, their eating and their sleep, psychological problem is another aspect
which has long term effects on their total development. They may have difficulty at school and find it hard to develop
close and positive friendships. They may try to run away or even display suicidal tendencies. Not only this, children
may perceive it differently. For example, a study by four universities in the United Kingdom examined how children
and young people perceive domestic violence, and how those who have lived with such violence cope with it and
make sense of their experiences. The research (Source: cited in UNICEF, 2000), which covered 1,395 children, aged
8-16, found that: The vast majority of children at secondary school, and just over half at primary age, want to learn
more about domestic violence what it is and how to stop it as well as to understand why it happens. Children
who live with domestic violence cope in a variety of ways, ranging from keeping themselves safe and trying to protect
their mothers and siblings, to getting help and intervening directly, by calling the police, for example. Most children
who had lived with domestic violence said that professionals, with the exception of refuge workers, either ignored or
disbelieved them. Children want to be listened to, to be taken seriously and to be involved in decisions about their
lives. They want support, understanding and reassurance, to be in safety with their mothers and have their own
belongings, and even their pets, around them. This is a rare example of research focusing on the views of children
and young people, and found that children were not silent or passive victims of violence. Children of all ages were
quite active in their responses to, and methods of coping with, violence, sometimes with understanding and initiative
well beyond their age. The study concluded that the perspectives and understanding of children and young people
should inform the development of appropriate policy and practice in health, welfare, 13
14. education and the criminal justice system as well as in specialist services for women and children. Childrens tenacity
and resilience are key resources Impact on Health Table 1 - Health Consequenceswith which agencies can work.
of Violence against Women NON-FATAL OUTCOMES FATAL OUTCOMES Physical health outcomes: Mental health
outcomes: Suicide Injury (from lacerations to Depression Homicide fractures and internal organs Fear
Maternal mortality injury) Anxiety HIV/AIDS Unwanted pregnancy/Miscarriage Low self-esteem Gynecological
problems Sexual dysfunction STDs including HIV/AIDS Eating problems Pelvic inflammatory Obsessive-
compulsive disease/Chronic pelvic pain disorder Headaches, Asthma Post traumatic stress Permanent
disabilities disorder Self-injurious behaviours (smoking, unprotected sex) (Source: WHO Consultation, 1996)
Domestic violence against women leads to far-reaching physical and psychological consequences; some with fatal
outcomes (see Table 1). Violence against women has been linked to many serious health problems, both immediate
and long-term. These include injuries, sometimes leading to death or disability; a variety of chronic physical
conditions; reproductive health problems; mental health disorders, including suicide; and unhealthy behavior, such as
drug abuse. One such study in a large health maintenance organization (HMO) in Washington state, US, found that
women who experienced any type of abuse in childhood, whether physical, sexual, emotional, or neglect, had
significantly poorer health than their peers. The study found that women who suffered maltreatment in childhood had
more sexual and reproductive health problems, poorer physical functioning, more risky behavior, and more physical
symptoms than non-abused women. Moreover, the average woman who had been abused in childhood also had
more diagnoses across a wide range of health problems, including infectious diseases, mental health problems, and
chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma (Walker et. al., 1999). 14
15. 10) Conclusions Domestic violence is a widespread problem in Nepal. Cultural, economic and religious factors
reinforce male dominance and female subservience so thoroughly that neither the domestic violence nor the failures
to complain about it are unusual. By law, men inherit and control most property with the concomitant responsibility to
support parents, wives and children. Every sector of civil society in Nepal responds to domestic violence by
encouraging compromise. Family members, village elders, police, quasi-judicial administrators, and even womens
advocates and lawyers retained to represent victims work to reconcile the victims of domestic abuse with their
abusers. This pressure to reconcile is due in part to the pervasive view that there is no place for a woman to live
outside her family; a woman is completely dependent on her husband for food, clothing and shelter for herself and
her children. Even though more than 50% population is female in Nepal, they are made backward from the main
stream of development. In recent years, especially after the 2nd peoples movement, gradual improvement is seen in
the womens life particularly in political participation and decision making. The NHDR 2009 reveals slight
improvement in GDI and GEM between 2001 and 2006, which indicate a positive sign of improving womens social
life. The GDI has increased from 0.452 to 0.499 and GEM from 0.391 to 0.496 respectively in between 2001 to 2006
A.D. But still lot is to be done for uplifting the status of women in Nepal. Nepali legal system does not provide an
effective remedy to women subjected to domestic violence. Civil law provides for the material support of abused
women by partition of the husband's property. Delays in the Nepalese legal system, however, often effectively deny
women their right to partition. The government taskforce formed to recommend ways to end all sorts of VAW has
concluded that it is difficult for an individual woman to get justice due to the helplessness and supports from the
family members, relatives and the authority. Despite the efforts of several non-governmental organizations and a few
police authorities to change law and policy in Nepal, the Nepalese government is complacent about the widespread
VAW. The Nepalese government continues to overlook domestic violence by: 1) failing to enact a law to prohibit
domestic violence; 2) failing to accord women property rights necessary to support themselves and their children; and
3) failing to develop and implement government policies for public education and social services targeted at domestic
violence 15
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Most violence victim women are of productive age 16