This Field Bulletin attempts to explore the prevalence of violence against women in Nepal from the perspective of Udaypur district in the Eastern Development Region. The findings are based on interactions with (women’s) human rights defenders, government and security officials, civil society organizations and the public during January and February 2013. It highlights some of the main underlying causes perpetuating violence against women in the district and looks at some of the national and district policies and responsive mechanisms in place to prevent or address these. Furthermore, the Field Bulletin examines the challenges survivors face in accessing justice in the district and concludes with some suggestions for mitigating these from local level actors.
Every year millions of women and girls worldwide suffer from violence or other forms of abuse. This violence is not confined to a specific culture, region or country, or to particular groups of women within a society, including in Nepal.1 The 2011 Demographic and Health Survey shows that one in three women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since age 15 and nine percent of these women have experienced physical violence within the past 12 months.2
In December 2012, an incident involving a female migrant worker returning home marked the starting point of the Occupy Baluwatar campaign: a homegrown social movement in response to the way authorities handled this case, in particular, and the continuance of violence against women in Nepal, in general. The incident, one among many that month, occurred during Nepal’s commemoration of the global event of ‘16 days of activism against gender based violence’. At the same time an incident in India involving a violent attack on two students (one of whom was a young woman who did not survive her injuries) became a high-profile case internationally and was closely followed in Nepal as well. Ever since, Nepal’s national media has been drawing increased attention toward incidences of violence against women across the country. On February 14, coinciding with the fiftieth day of the Occupy Baluwatar movement, a large number of Nepali people joined nearly 200 countries worldwide to rise up and speak out against violence against women during the event of ‘One Billion Rising’.