The situation of women's and girls' human rights was worrisome during 2021, but the authorities did not pay heed to address this issue, says the New-York based Human Rights Watch in the World Report, 2022.

As per the report published earlier this week, Nepal has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Asia, with 33 per cent of girls marrying before 18 years and 8 per cent by age 15. In the case of boys, 9 per cent marry before the age of 18.

This situation worsened during the pandemic as children were pushed out of education and families faced increased poverty.

Similarly, Nepal's 2006 Citizenship Act, as well as the 2015 constitution, has provisions that discriminate against women. A draft bill to amend the act, first presented in the Parliament in 2018, retains several discriminatory provisions.

In September 2020, three UN human rights experts wrote to the government raising concerns that 'the bill would continue to discriminate systematically against women regarding their ability to transmit citizenship through marriage to their children.' Due to flawed citizenship laws, an estimated five million people are forced to live without citizenship and are at risk of statelessness.

Reported cases of rape continued to increase sharply in 2021, but the police were often reluctant to register cases and investigations were frequently ineffective, resulting in widespread impunity for sexual violence, warned the 752-page report that has reviewed human rights practices in nearly 100 countries.

Following Nepal's Universal Period Review, the government began consultations to update the criminal code to better safeguard the recognised right to abortion.

The bill to amend the Citizenship Act also contains a clause that would require transgender people to provide proof of their transition to access citizenship documents according to their gender identity, which violates international human rights law and a 2007 Supreme Court judgment mandating that gender identity be recognised on the basis of "self-feeling."

While Nepal was among the first countries in the world to protect social and political rights of LGBT people, including legal recognition of the third gender, cases of discrimination and police abuse continue unabated, it said.

The Human Rights Watch also reported that caste-based violence and discrimination against Dalits were rarely investigated or prosecuted despite the adoption of the Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (Crime and Punishment) Act in 2011.

Two emblematic cases of caste-based killings committed on 23 May 2020 are yet to be prosecuted. One incident involved the death of a 12-year-old Dalit girl a day after she was forced to marry her alleged rapist, and another the killing of six men in Rukum (West) after a young Dalit man arrived to marry his girlfriend from another caste.

A version of this article appears in the print on January 16, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.