Kathmandu, March 17
Despite many legal and other measures taken by the government and civil society to end the dowry system over the last one decade, the evil practice still continues in Nepali society.
According to data shared by National Women Commission, in fiscal 2018-19, 400 women suffered physical violence, 589 women became victims of mental violence, 224 women faced financial violence and 47 women faced sexual violence.
These incidents occurred mainly due to dowry-related conflict. A large percentage of women (61.3per cent), who had experienced violence, did not share or discuss their experience with anyone.
“Dowry has comparatively decreased in the last one decade due to awareness among people and also due to the fact that the government has outlawed dowry,” said Prabin Pandak, who is involved in the campaign against dowry.
The major reason behind increasing dowry is poverty and illiteracy. Over a span of eight years, poverty has decreased in Nepal.
From 25 per cent in 2010, Nepal’s poverty has decreased to 21 per cent in 2018. Nepal ranks 78th in the poverty index among countries of the world.
However, there are still some poor families seeking to make an earning out of dowry by asking for it and in some cases even bargaining for a large sum in dowry from the bride’s parents and family.
In case the bride fails to bring enough dowry, they are subjected to the very worst forms of violence.
Apart from poverty, illiteracy is another cause of this form of violence against women. As per the 2011 census, 65.9 per cent of the total population is literate, but in 2018, literacy rate for Nepal was 67.9 per cent.
Nepal is in the 129th position in literacy rate among all countries. Illiteracy has turned out to be a major reason behind dowry.
Women, mainly in the Tarai region, are found affected more by the ill-practice of dowry.
Women are subjected to mental and physical violence and even murdered in the name of dowry.
In 2009, Nepal enacted the Evil Social Customs and Practices Abolition Act outlawing dowry. But due to poor enforcement of the Act, violence against women related to dowry continues.
The government has allocated Rs five lakh this fiscal for programmes meant to curb violence against women.
The rights of women are guaranteed by the constitution, but they are seldom implemented. There is no decrease in the cases of violence against women and this may be a great hurdle on the way to realising the dream of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’.
A version of this article appears in print on March 18, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.