Although the promotion of women's rights has witnessed significant progress in legal and policy terms, gender-based discrimination still persists in practice, warns the National Human Rights Commission.

As per the synopsis of the Annual Report (2020-21) released by the rights body, women are still largely dependent on men for finance. Domestic work is not valued as work. Due to anti-social norms and discrimination, oppression, exploitation, injustice, and exclusion in practice, the condition of women has not made significant progress compared to that of men in all spheres of national life, including political, economic, social, cultural and educational sectors.

"Social harmful practices such as Jhuma, Deuki, Chhaupadi and Kumari have not yet been completely abolished.

Women are being discriminated in Nepali society due to the prevalence of dowry and tilak, child marriage, marriage without consent, violence committed by family members on the charge of witchcraft, physical assault and even acts of murder for not providing dowry," an excerpt of the report reads.

With the passage of time and development, the nature and forms of violence against women are also changing. As per the NHRC, there is a practice of identifying the foetus through video X-ray and having an abortion in case a daughter has been conceived.

"Women are subjected to rape, sexual abuse, and acid attacks.

They are forced to suffer due to dowry and tilak practice, child marriage, marriage without consent and accusation of witchcraft. Violence by family members, thrashings, burnings, evictions, and even deaths for not providing dowry continue to exist in one form or another," it stated. Furthermore, the incidence of domestic violence appears to have increased amidst the pandemic.

The rights body said human trafficking continued to exist in different forms from the past.

According to the Nepal Police, 528 cases related to human trafficking were registered in the fiscal 2019-20. These incidents show that the condition of women is still deplorable. Incidents of rape, trafficking, polygamy, and child marriage are on the rise.

"The nature and forms of violence against women are also changing along with time and development. Violence against women has also been perpetrated by misusing modern technology. The practice of having an abortion after identifying the foetus through video X-ray can be taken as one of its forms," the NHRC said.

Even though overall human life has been affected by COV- ID-19, its impact has been harsh on women. Looking at the overall situation, the life of women in rural areas is still miserable. Although the constitution and laws are women-friendly, women's rights have not been fully implemented.

Therefore, the state and stakeholders need to be more sensitive about the areas of effective implementation of the law, the rights body suggested.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 14, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.