Violence against women: cause of increase in period of lockdown

१४ असार २०७७, आईतवार २०:१८

Unisha Aryal , Kathmandu – COVID-19 cases are increasing day by day. It’s a global pandemic by which there are many deaths, many of them are infected and also many of them have recovered. Nepal is in the period of lockdown. Many of us are facing problems from this lockdown. Lockdown on its own invites various problems and tension to an individual ranging in wide variation from economic problems to triggering mental health problems. Some of the people lost their jobs, some of them are lacking food and shelter. Apart from all these problems, the most vulnerable problem is being increased in the period of lockdown in Nepal i.e. violence against women. Violence is a universal act that threatens life, health and happiness of all human beings. According to WHO, “Violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights.” It is especially intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health, and may increase the risk of acquiring HIV AIDS in some settings. It also impacts on families, society and the nation at last. Women who live with domestic violence have no escape from their abusers during quarantine also. The woman who was gang raped in quarantine a week earlier. Incidents of rape has been reported in Bhojpur district. More than 70 percent of the cases are registered there. Lockdown period has many increasing cases of violence against women in Nepal. There are 730 cases of violence against women and children, where 109 cases are of rape, 74 cases of social violence, 31 cases of suicide, 27 cases of sexual harassment, 25 cases of attempt to rape, 16 cases of murder, 11 cases of cybercrime, 4 cases of murder or suicide not yet confirmed, 4 cases of attempt to murder, 3 cases of human trafficking and 2 cases of attempt to suicide.

Because of the lockdown, public movement is prohibited. By which many women are facing problems because they have to stay under the safe roof with their husband and family. They are unable to seek support and visit their maternal home, also the welfare organizations which helps them to rescue from such violence. Many of the cases are still unreported because women do not want their husband to be criminally charged in this situation. But, it is not good thought women must speak up for their rights. From the beginning of patriarchal society, women are stuck in their husband’s home though they (men) did something women have to compromise. It is shameful in this 21st century women are facing violence when they are in their own home.

Violence has been always presented in Nepali society and it is continuing in the period of lockdown also. “Simple” the ultimate cause of violence of women is always clear – a perpetrator (he) who believes as they are mostly men has a right to abuse. They also know or believe that they can get away with it – that no justice system will hold him liable or no police can arrest him. It is not that only women are victims, men are also victims sometimes but mostly women suffer. This is why an effective legislation and justice response is the foundation stone of preventing violence. In Nepal, things have changed, many people have lost their jobs and they are frustrated because they have nothing to live with (no food, shelter, income as well). The stress of losing jobs, or having a small amount of income rather than before leads some people to be abusive. They get drunk, hit their wife, misbehaved and so on. Is it the solution by doing such? Can they get a job or food by showing their masculinity? Actually not. Women are always being victims in many cases of violence in Nepal. The reality is especially distressing for women who were ready to leave before the pandemic and now have to stay at home, where they could face further violence. The government of Nepal must address such problems and have effective rules to stop violence against women. Women also should be empowered to stop such violence. They must contact women activists and their neighbors too for the temporary time. The only solution to seek your right is to speak up. If you do not speak for yourself then who will speak? Stand up and fight for your rights, if you do not speak then you will be the one suffering more not the offender.

Criminal justice system must take strict action for the reported cases and investigate must be done in unreported cases. Government must protect women from violence. State is the guardian of the citizens. Thus, the state must protect women from violence and make them re-established in the society where they belong to.

Lockdown has been around for the long time and we do not know for how long it will remain. Government must take serious action for this offence. Women are not safe anywhere not even in quarantine. Government must do the following things, which can control the violence to some extent in this situation and they are as follows:-

  1. Expansion of helplines and information sharing through medias
  2. Limiting risk factors associated with violence
  3. Improving services for victims and witnesses
  4. Funding women’s full participation in civil society
  5. Providing protection from violence.

Governments have clear obligations under international human rights law to protect women from violence. This includes both seeking to prevent violence and to protect women once they become victims from further violence. In many countries there have been calls for legal or policy changes to reflect the increased risk to women and children in quarantine. Increased abuse is a pattern repeated in many emergencies, whether conflict, economic crisis or during disease outbreaks, although the quarantine rules pose a particularly grave challenge. Around the world, every state is in lockdown period to prevent themselves from COVID-19 but the mass efforts to save lives have put women more at risk.

Unisha Aryal

BA LLB 2nd Year

Kathmandu School of Law