Violence Against Women
By Hisila Yami
Violence against women (VAW) is increasing Nepal in different forms. It is one of the manifestations of overall escalation of violence in society. The uncertainty of promulgating constitution in time is providing fertile ground for violence. It is to be noted that integration of Maoist combatants with Nepal army and promulgating constitution through Constituent Assembly (CA) were the main pillars of Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA). Pledging for forward-looking restructuring of the state by resolving the prevailing problems related to class, ethnicity, regional and gender differences was also part of CPA.
Violence against women is apparent in two forms. One is domestic violence and the other is political violence. There are fundamental differences between the two forms of violence. Usually, when one talks on violence against women one automatically assumes domestic violence. This is because domestic violence takes place in private arena, at personal level and is visible physically. Often, women are victims and men are perpetuator. Hence, domestic violence is easier to identify. Unless, some civil society, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Party or movement decide to make it a public issue it rarely becomes part of state subject.
However, political violence against women is as complex like politics. In fact it is more complex because it involves not only power game but also involves gender game, whereby the powerful men who are already in race for the power will try to displace, discourage and dismiss already marginalized women. It is more complicated because this will not be seen in personal level but at policy level, which is more difficult to comprehend. This will not be seen in open but in veiled form under anonymity, vagueness and procrastination of decision making. That is why it is called structural violence.
Domestic violence is very painful to the affected person because the cause and effect both become private. This is because government officials can wash their hands by saying, ‘joipoi ko jhagada paral ko aago’ (fight between husband and wife is like burning straw). This means there is no point stopping the fight as it is a private matter. As a result the victim is forced to defend or reconciled to her fate. The daughter is forced to reconcile to domestic violence because the perpetuator is her father. Similarly, sister is forced to reconcile because the perpetuator is her brother. In the same way wife is forced to reconcile to domestic violence because the perpetuator is her own husband. This increases vicious circle of violence.
However, political violence in a long term it is more harmful as it affects not only individuals but society and country as well. Political violence may be exposed in various forms. Taking example of constitution making process, the more it takes time to promulgate, the more increase in instability and violence. At the same time, the more the formal constitution without carrying the spirit of change is promulgated the more it invites dissatisfaction. Such as, the removal of mixed form of election to replace with the First Past the Post (FPTP) will invite lots of dissatisfaction amongst oppressed people. Similarly, making mandatory of father and mother as a pre-condition for giving citizenship right will make children stateless. Not following the spirit of CPA in which the question of inclusion, democratization and forward-looking restructuring to end discrimination against class, region, gender and ethnicity will invite all sorts of violence. It will invite class, ethnic, religious, regional including gender violence. Similarly not giving equal right to parental property, or common property to women will affect women’s participation in production as well as in political arena.
Due to the structural violence it is difficult for women to join politics and to continue it. There are cases where responsible male politicians have adversely commented on women leaders regarding their body, complexion and brain. For instance single women politicians have been charged of abortion. All these are related to political violence against women.
In the parties women’s participation in policy level is often neglected. Medias also seem to be running more after women’s private life than their ideology, work, and policy. This means women’s input is not recognized. When a child is born, the first lesson of patriarchy that a child would learn is domestic violence where the child sees father hurting mother. When a newly-wed woman reaches to her new home she faces husband’s violence and violence from her son in her old age.
Political violence on women is a tool to limit women to domestic sphere. It does not allow woman to be holistic, strategic and under systematic framework from womb to tomb. It leaves women on ad-hoc basis, as marginalized, as stop-gap, and as bearer of life without life.
Both domestic as well as political violence on women indicates deep-rooted structural violence, which will not only affect women but also men as well as society and country. Women are made synonym to private, they are made private property to be used, thrown and exchanged.