Combating Gender-Based Violence in Nepal

Published On: December 10, 2023 09:30 AM NPT By: Neelam Dhanuse

Neelam Dhanuse

Neelam Dhanuse

The author is rights activist working for gender equality and social inclusion in Nepal for nearly the past two decades.

The Significance of Engaging Men and Boys against GVB

The data indicates a troubling trend in which the majority of the offenders in gender-based violence cases are men. This emphasizes the importance of involving men and boys as essential change agents in the battle against gender-based violence.

While observing the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, the Nepal Police’s Gender-Based Violence (GBV) report for the fiscal year 2079/80 reveals an alarming reality about violence against women and girls in Nepal. In 2079/80, men committed 98 percent of sexual violence and 78 percent of domestic violence incidents. This shocking data highlights a worrying tendency in which men are predominantly involved in committing widespread problems of violence against women and girls in Nepal. 

GBV is deeply rooted in the social and cultural structures, norms, and values that regulate societies. The social construction of masculinity and men's use of violence are inevitably linked. Social norms that excuse men's use of violence as an instrument of discipline and control enhance gender inequality and perpetuate GBV. Violence against women (VAW) has been a persistent issue in many different cultures and communities throughout history.

Historical Background

In World War II, violence against women (VAW) resulted from the exertion of power over an enemy. After the war, instances of violence gained public attention. Simultaneously, there was a worldwide acknowledgment of human rights, leading to the UN's endorsement of the UDHR on December 10, 1948, proclaiming, "No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment."

The struggle of women against inequality and discrimination in Nepal traces back to the resistance against patriarchy led by Yogmaya Neupane and her 60 followers who sacrificed their lives by jumping over and drowning themselves in the Arun River.

Significance of Engaging Men and Boys

The data indicates a troubling trend in which the majority of the offenders in gender-based violence cases are men. This emphasizes the importance of involving men and boys as essential change agents in the battle against gender-based violence. Efforts must be directed at opposing destructive cultural norms and patriarchy that perpetuate violence, as well as fostering positive masculinity.

Acknowledging that men hold power and privileges in a patriarchal society like Nepal, it becomes crucial to leverage this influence to reduce GBV. By recognizing and addressing their societal advantages, men can actively challenge deeply embedded gender stereotypes. Moreover, they can play a pivotal role in promoting the cultivation of healthy relationships, engaging in awareness initiatives, advocating for transformative change, dismantling harmful societal norms fostering environments of equality and respect, shifting social norms that subordinate women and girls, and intervening to speak out against GBV.

Men need to understand that gender is not just about women; it involves everyone. Gender-based violence (GBV) doesn't only harm women; it also has negative impacts on men and boys, gender, and sexual minorities, as well as the entire community. Hence, men and boys must take an active role in reducing violence and protecting themselves, their families, and society from the adverse effects of GBV. This helps in building a society where nobody faces violence, and everyone can enjoy their rights and freedom. 

In Nepal, there is a significant male domination among politicians, decision-makers, programmers, bureaucrats, judiciary, policy implementers, and security forces. Those men in positions of power can formulate and influence policies intended for preventing gender-based violence (GBV), allocate funding to address violence against women and girls and ensure the effective implementation of related policies and legislation.

Achieving long-lasting impact, as envisioned by the Constitution of Nepal for the establishment of an egalitarian society, requires a comprehensive approach involving the entire population, particularly recognizing that men constitute nearly 50% of the population. The engagement of men and boys is important to ensure a holistic strategy that addresses issues related to gender-based violence (GBV). Sole dependence on efforts made by women might not be adequate, requiring the comprehensiveness needed for the effective prevention of GBV.

Public and Civil Society Initiatives

Considering the significance of engaging men and boys, the Ministry of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens (MoWCSC) established a Male Leaders' Network for Gender Justice in 2015. Additionally, the government introduced the Engaging Men in Eliminating Gender-Based Violence Procedure in 2018. In recent times, several local governments have been providing training to men on gender justice. The non-governmental sector began addressing this issue earlier than the government, with initiatives starting after the Men Engage Alliance was established in 2007.

Finally, the Nepal Police GBV report stresses the essential need of addressing violence against women and girls, particularly committed by men, emphasizing the need to engage men and boys in challenging harmful norms and patriarchy. Recognizing the significance of engaging men and boys, efforts should focus on dismantling patriarchy, promoting positive masculinity, and collectively opposing GBV. The importance of the UNITE to End Violence Against Women Campaign can only be realized by involving all stakeholders, including men and boys.

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