Bikamati with her youngest daughter in this recent photo.
ROLPA, March 8: Police in Rolpa have stated that the cases of domestic violence against women are rife, and ample of such cases are related to caste-based issues. Child marriage in the district is common and the marriages are rather 'love marriage' these days where caste and class become a secondary matter for girls and boys initially.
However, they come across unimaginable troubles in life as their respective families turn hostile toward them. In the last six months alone, 69 cases of domestic violence were registered at the District Police Office. A lot of such incidents go unreported.
Bikamati Roka Chhetri, a local of Gumchal village of Lungri Rural Municipality – 3, was just 14 when she eloped with a Dalit boy from a neighboring village Harjang 19 years ago. Now 33, she has two daughters while three others died. "I had five children, two died. Life is very difficult, I should not have married at young age and to a person from some other caste," she lamented.
Problems in life had surfaced right after the marriage. Her marriage with someone from the Dalit community had upset her parents. They would not interfere with her life no matter how serious troubles befell on her.
On the other hand, the Dalit family was not happy about the bond either. But for her life had already become complicated as she gave birth to a child in the second year of her marriage. "I delivered a son as my first child. But he is no more alive," she reported.
Her son committed suicide when he was 17. She attributes this to several kinds of tensions in life which the young child could not bear with. Inter-caste marriages bring shame to children, she said.
According to Bikamati, she became a victim of domestic violence from the time of her marriage.
Instead of getting better, things only got worse. She was not welcomed at her maternal house, yet she went there a few years ago. She was not allowed to enter the house by her parents who said that she had become "impure" as she had married a Dalit.
"And then I started living in a shed. But they look at me and my daughters with disdain," she said.
Bikamati now hopes to get some share from either her husband's or her parents' property though such a possibility looks bleak. While her husband has already married another woman, Bikamati is in the district headquarters Libang to fight for justice.
"I had returned to my husband's house, but he beat me. Even his second wife beat me. They misbehaved with my daughters too. So I decided to fight for justice," she stated.
She and her husband had divorced two years ago in presence of the local representatives. He had given her Rs 60,000 as expenses for children. "He gave me the amount. But I will claim a share of his property as I have kids," she said.
According to the District Police Office, cases like that of Bikamati are common.
In some cases, women cannot fight for justice due to the lack of citizenship. A local rights activist Khem Budha states that gender discrimination is very deep-rooted in the rural parts of Rolpa where women do not have their say.
"Women are quite suppressed. Due to the lack of awareness, they fail to make necessary documents on time," he said. "Until and unless we take measures to make women financially independent, they will continue to suffer.
The patriarchal society always favors men over women," he added.