Bajura women not free to exercise voting rights

Bajura, December 4

It is learnt that men cast ballots on behalf of their female family members in the first phase of provincial and parliamentary polls in the rural areas of Bajura.

Male voters had cast ballots on different pretexts and female voters were just asked to stand in queue. A similar incident was reported in the recently concluded civic polls too. An eyewitness, Bharat Nepali of Budhiganga Municipality said male voters had cast ballots on behalf of female voters in the first round of provincial and parliamentary polls held on November 26.

As per the record with election office, the number of females casting votes was more than males in the district. Of the 69,834 voters, 52,729 voters had cast ballots. Chief Returning Officer’s Office said that 27,778 female voters had cast votes in the polls.

Civil Society leader Sher Bahadur Shahi said in rural areas of the district mostly male family members vote in the name of female voters. Casting votes on behalf of female members of the family who are physically and mentally fit is against the election act.

Voting officer Dipak Shah at Jalpadevi Pinalekh voting centre said males cast votes even though female members were in a queue to cast votes. “As many as 252 female voters were at the voting centre, but most of the male members cast ballots on behalf of their female family members,” he added. He said that the authority concerned tried to stop males but the women themselves gave them permission to vote on their behalf.

A voter, Bachu Rokaya in Himali Rural Municipality, said her husband or other male members of her family had been casting votes on her behalf in every election. “We have to obey the order of male members. They make us believe that we cannot cast ballots correctly,” she said. She added that they cast votes as per their male family members’ wish.

Another voting officer Ramesh Kunwar at Budhiganga Municipality’s Trishakti Higher Secondary School said that males had cast ballots on behalf of women. “Females are asked to stand in queue, but male members of the family cast ballots on their behalf,” he added.

Woman Rights Forum Bajura Chair Rukmani Sha said females could not cast ballots freely. “Women are pressurised and forced to vote for the candidates of their male family members’ choice,” she said.