KATHMANDU, April 10: Ganga of Sindhupalchowk got married at the age of 14. Her husband was very cruel. He used to beat her and have forceful sex. Raising voice against it was not possible, as her in-laws would not heed to her voice. At a very tender age, Ganga became a serious victim of sexual and domestic violence, she says.
“I would not be spared even during my periods. He would tie my hands and legs with rope and do everything he wanted. It would be so painful,” she said with teary eyes. When Ganga shared her plight with her parents, they insisted that she should compromise. This further pushed her into a ‘hellish’ life. She had no way to fight and get out of it.
“I left his house and went to my parent’s house. But they were not willing to support me. They said I must return to my own home. But my home was not like a home,” Ganga reminisced. “I was not treated humanely even when I was pregnant,” she added.
During her pregnancy, Ganga had an accident. She had fallen while she was collecting fodder for cattle. However, she was not taken to hospital for treatment. “I was injured, but received no treatment. I gave birth to daughter and she was not much loved either,” she said.
Her second child was also a daughter, and this brought more trouble in her life. “Had I given birth to son, things would be different. Girls are not looked upon with hope, my girls also suffered as they came into the family,” she lamented.
According to Ganga, when her daughters grew, they told her that to leave the house and stay at her parent’s house. As their father would beat their mother over small matters, the girls had urged her to quit home.
“They started telling me that it is better for me to leave the home,” she said. “You go and live with grandparents, we will come to see you frequently,” she quoted her kids as suggesting.
After trying to cope with the abusive husband, she recently ended the marriage by getting a divorce.
Rashmi* of Sindhupalchowk is also going through similar ordeal. She says she is beaten by her husband every day. She had been to Iraq for foreign employment where she worked for two years. She had invested her saving in a small business. But her husband took control of the business before kicking her out of home.
“After he threw me out of the house, I asked for separating legally. In the name of property he has given me a mobile phone set and Rs 50,000.”
Rashmi’s has two sons, one 22 and another 18 years old. They are also beaten by their father. “He even beats my sons and it is known to everyone in the neighborhood,” Rashmi said.
Now, she is contemplating filing for divorce. Though this might not do good to the family, this is the only option left, she says. “I am looking for a way to get rid of him. The action has become even more compelling after I learned of his affair with another woman,” she stated.
Data shows women are massively victimized
As per the data of the Supreme Court, 13,745 couples got divorced last fiscal year. Cases of divorce are rampant in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Morang, Jhapa, Kaski, Chitwan and Sunsari, among other districts.
According to Nirmal Gurung, legal officer at the National Woman Commission, domestic violence is a major reason behind women filing for divorce. “If you go by numbers, divorce cases have gone up drastically. This shows where our society is heading to,” she said.
Women do not tolerate these days
Unlike in the past, women do not tolerate violence or inequality these days. Because of better economic strength and awareness, they rather give up unhappy relationships, says Gurung. “Now, to save marriage, men have to treat their wives with sense. If you are going to torture her or not give her space, they won’t tolerate,” she noted.
As per the data of the commission, over 30 cases of violence against women are registered at the office every month.
“Once you treat the other person wrongly, the impression remains. So, in marriage both have to be careful in order to make it a long life relationship,” Gurung said.
Note: Names of the victims cited in this story have been changed to respect their privacy.