HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Defending human rights is a risky task and the risk is even higher for Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs). WHRDs said they face serious threats, intimidation and harassment while lobbying for women’s rights and vowing to ensure gender equity.
Sabita Thapa, a WHRD from Banepa, says threats and harassment have become a part of her life. “Violence and harassment start from my home and from my own husband,” she says. Thapa points that her husband is not happy with her for raising voice against patriarchy. Thapa says she faces threat from political parties, social leaders and other members of society. She emphasises that WHRDs like her need specific state protection to continue their job.
Sharing her predicament on the occasion of the International Women Human Rights Defenders’ Day, she said they are demanding a mechanism to address violence against women within 24 hours of complaints registration.
Karna Maya Magar, WHRD from the Shakti Community Organisation, Udayapur, said they are raising voices against domestic violence and sexual violence against women. The group is organising awareness on various issues like dowry, personal and environmental sanitation, and child education. She said she has been experiencing threat to her life, especially from male members of the society.
Dr Renu Rajbhandari, president of the National Alliance of WHRDs, said women human rights defenders are at risk of attack because of the work they do. Threats and marginalisation they face is frequently gender specific and can include sexual violence, she said. The alliance with more than 2,000 WHRDs has recorded 52 cases of serious threats against WHRDs this year.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court had directed the government to draft a security policy for WHRDs. Former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and incumbent PM Babu Ram Bhattarai pledged to draft a policy for security of WHRDs, in vain, said Rajbhandari.