The 16-day activism against gender-based violence that started on the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 is going to conclude tomorrow (Sunday). The issue of violence against women is a matter of global concern that transcends cultural, economic and social boundaries. Such violence is often rooted in historical, social and cultural stereotypes that contribute to subordinate and discriminate women in the society. Historical stigmas and practices have reinforced gender inequalities, establishing norms that marginalise the women.
Despite the fact that the government, national and international organisations, activists and survivors have been continuously working to check the cases of violence against women in recent decades, there is still a long way to go to completely eliminate the deep rooted patriarchal mindset that perpetuate the gender based injustice. In this campaign, the role of awareness, education and advocacy is very important which puts necessary pressure on formulating government policy and implementing exiting legal provisions.
In this regard, while speaking at a programme, jointly organised by Sanchirika Samuha and Koshish Nepal on the occasion of 16-day of activism against gender based violence, Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Surendra Raj Acharya has pointed out the need for organising awareness programmes across the country in order to eliminate cases of violence against women. Such awareness campaigns that challenge outdated societal norms and attitudes is very important to bring about positive changes.
It is essential to educate communities about the rights of women and the consequences of gender-based violence. Although the constitution has a noble vision of building an equitable society on the basis of proportional, inclusive and participatory principles, it has yet to be realised to create an equal and equitable society. Incidents of gender-based violence continue unabated. While some cases of violence are reported, others remain out of public notice due to threats and coercion.
Perpetrators often blame the victims for their offenses to normalise the cases of violence against women. It is true that societies have historically been characterised by male-dominated cultural, political, religious and social structures that have also contributed to carry on gender inequalities. These structures have often worked to constrain their active participation in social, economic and political activities on a par with their male counterparts. Such power imbalances have created an environment where instances of sexual assaults, abuse and rape occur.
The survivors of domestic violence, physical and sexual assaults and rape bear the trauma induced by the abuse throughout their lives. The tendency of putting all the blame on the victims boosts the morale of the offenders. Many cases of sexual abuses are covered up in the name of protecting the honour and prestige of the victims involved. In many cases of sexual abuse, the victims know who the offenders are but they often keep quiet because of the fear of being socially outcast. In the cases of domestic violence, women often put up with the violence inflected upon them because of the social and economic insecurities, and fearing the wellbeing of their children.
Education, employment opportunities and social security are essential for the empowerment of women. The government should focus on giving best education to girls to make them independent, and advocate their rights. Legislation, policy changes, awareness campaign and rehabilitation are a must to bring about tangible changes. Thus, the efforts to combat GBV should continue as a non-stop crusade.