GORKHA, Nov 30: A total of 11 women and children committed suicide in Gorkha in the last four months. During last fiscal year, 29 women and children had taken their own lives. According to the district police office, huge number women and children hit by domestic violence are found to have committed suicide. And domestic violence is more common in poor and marginalized communities.
“Women and children from poor families are the most vulnerable. Several kinds of problems including domestic violence leave them depressed. And in worse case, the victims decide to take their own lives,” said Inspector Kamala Naral, of Women and Children Section of the District Police Office.
According to Inspector Naral, eroding moral values and insecurities in families have led to the rising cases of domestic violence against minor girl child. Sexual abuse by brothers against sisters and fathers against daughters are being reported.
“It is shocking, but it something we cannot close eyes to,” said Naral. “In the last few months, around a dozen of such cases of minors have been recorded. Not every abuse is sexual, but yes, domestic violence is getting deeper in society,” she added.
She cited a recent case of a 14-year-old brother victimizing his sister. She was beaten and raped by the brother. Similarly, Inspector Naral has currently been handling a case of a girl raped by her father. “And there is another woman who has filed case of domestic violence against a retired government employee,” she said.
As per the police record, 182 women filed domestic violence related cases at the child and women cell in the last one year. This is less by 45 cases than the previous year. However the difference does not indicate any improvement in gender-based violence in the society, according to Inspector Naral. “Earlier, all such cases would come to us. Now, victims can also go to the legal committee set up by the local governments. So, our data does not give the actual picture,” she explained.
Interestingly, the reporting of the cases of polygamy has gone down this time. As the law now does not validate second marriage, it is not easy to establish polygamy.
“It may not be that polygamy has gone gown in practice, but unlike in the past, it does not make a legal case that easily as the second marriage is simply not given validity by the law,” said Naral.
New criminal and civil codes had come into effect on August last year. This has redefined relationships and marriages and has made it easier for men to file for divorce as well. While men were earlier not allowed to file divorce case in court directly, now they can do so. “The new law is more equal than the earlier one regarding divorce and this somehow impacts domestic violence.
For instance, men who are into unhealthy marital relationship or are facing violence have easier exit now. This not only saves them from violence but also becomes helpful for women in many situations,” Inspector Naral observed. “When they know they can get rid of someone with whom things are not working, men rather go for divorce than turn violent and harmful at home,” she added.
Naral also related domestic violence against both men and women to foreign employment. While long distance relationship bothers both, wives are generally treated lowly at home by the family members of the husband.
“When her husband is away, family members find it easier to dominate the wife. In poor families, they even thrash women simply because her husband is not at home,” Naral said.
Naral has also come across many cases where wives have failed to live up to the husbands’ expectations. They not only ‘misuse’ the money sent home by husband, but also eloped with other men. “And this victimizes men. They lose both hard earned money and have to face the tragedy as well,” she said.
Breaking down of families, for whatever reason, land children in troubles. And if the families are poor, the situation turns worse, according to Naral. “In developed countries, they have all kinds of protections and even the society respects freedom of choice and happiness.
Here, things get serious for children. And when families are poor, they are often deprived of even basic rights,” she added.
Such children are often vulnerable to sexual violence as well, according to Naral.
“It is very important to give them protection and secure their rights. For this, a holistic approach is necessary,” she said.
In the view of the ongoing 16-day activism against gender based violence, government and non-government bodies have been organizing several types of awareness programs. According to Krishna Kumari Shrestha, chief administrative officer at Gorkha Municipality, awareness and empowerment of women is the only way toward a just society.
“Just by wishing violence free society, it is not going to happen. We have to empower women from the grassroots level,” she said.