KATHMANDU, Oct 27: While cases of violence against women including rape have been rising in recent months, the National Women Commission (NWC), the statutory body responsible for dealing with such cases, is left without office bearers for months.
Key positions including the head of the commission are lying vacant after all members retired following the government introduced NWC Act 2017 in line with the constitution. Positions of office bearers — a chairperson and four members — are lying vacant.
Despite its repeated pledges to fill the vacancies, the government has not done anything toward giving the commission a full shape.
Officials at the commission say absence of office bearers has affected the body's overall functioning. “Works other than the day-to-day administrative tasks have been affected in the absence of office bearers,” said Dhurbaraj Chhetri, an information officer at commission.
Over 800 complaints are pending at the commission.
According to him, the commission is facing problems even in organizing press conferences and issuing press releases on important developments related to violence against women.
Following criticism from various sides over the delay in filling the vacancies, the government in August had issued a public notice as part of its preparations to give the commission a full shape. But there has been no progress on the matter, according to the officials.
In the past, the ruling parties would appoint rights activists loyal to their parties. But the recent public notice was issued purportedly to fill the vacancies through open competition.
As per the criteria set for chairperson of the NWC, the candidate should be above 45 years old and have at least 10 years of working experience in the areas of women empowerment.
The new NWC Act has further empowered the commission by giving it the status of a constitutional body. But the absence of office bearers has crippled its functioning, according to commission officials.