At a time when a large section of population has been shut in their homes due to the prohibitory orders issued by the concerned district administration offices to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus, risk of women and children being abused from their own relatives and acquaintances has also increased.

Nepal Police have warned that the ongoing prohibitory orders and self-isolation could spur the cases of gender-based violence, domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual abuses. It also said senior citizens, women and children were vulnerable to abuse.

Bearing this in mind, Nepal Police has assured the citizens that it is always ready to address the cases of GBV, sexual harassment and domestic violence. A public notice issued by the security agency today has encouraged the victims to come forward with complaints if they face any such abuses. "We are with the victims to support them and bring to book the perpetrators," read the notice.

Nepal Police said the victims could report the incidents by calling at 100 or 104.

Complaints may be lodged through Facebook page of Nepal Police as well. According to data released by Women, Children and Senior Citizens Service Directorate of Nepal Police, 2,230 cases of rape, 786 cases of attempted rape and 14,774 cases of domestic violence were recorded in fiscal 2018-19. Most of those crimes were perpetrated by husbands, relatives and acquaintances of victims.

Similarly, the data released by WOREC Nepal stated that 624 women and girls from 55 districts had experienced different forms of violence during four months of lockdown last year. Among the documented cases, 61 per cent were related to domestic violence.

Data indicate women are abused verbally, tortured physically and mentally raising question on the character in the name of dowry, giving birth to a girl child or being childless after being married for years. Women were also deprived of most essential basic needs and services.

Among domestic violence cases, 283 husbands were perpetrators.

A judicial committee has been established at each local level, which settles disputes primarily through mediation and subsequently through adjudication. The disputes it settles are related to complaints of not taking care of senior citizens, not providing education, food and clothes to minor children and matters concerning relations between husband and wife.

According to a recent report released by the National Human Rights Commission, women rights have been promoted through laws and policies, but practically gender-based violence is still rampant. Women face discrimination, exploitation, injustice and exclusion mainly due to ill social practices and patriarchal norms and values.

"Women-friendly laws are in place, but have not been implemented effectively.

Hence, the government and other stakeholders should focus on effective implementation of laws for true empowerment," the rights body suggested.

624 women and girls had experienced violence during the lockdown last year.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 15, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.