UNFPA launches 16-day awareness campaign

Kathmandu, November 25:

Speakers today stressed the need to behaviour change, reforms in social norms, strengthening of legal systems and guarantee of proper health services to counter gender-based violence. They were taking part in a programme organised by the UNFPA to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: Launch of sixteen days Against Gender-Based Violence, here today. Junko Sazaki, country representative of UNFPA read out the message of Thoraya Obaid, executive director of UNFPA, “Social norms and attitudes that condone discrimination and violence against women and girls can be changed, which requires awareness, behaviour change and social mobilisation.”

“The rights of women need to be protected and those who violate the laws must be brought to justice, and guarantee the right to sexual and reproductive health.” Sapana Pradhan Malla, president of Forum for Women Law and Development said gender justice is yet to be seen in the judicial system of the country. “Though special laws have been enacted to ensure justice to women, the insensitive mechanism and patriarchal attitudes of judges do not allow its delivery,” Pradhan said, adding, “the definition of violence against women are limited to the narrow definition and the social stigma do not encourage them to seek justice.” The protectionist approach against the biological differences adopted in the legal system and the 181 discriminatory legal provisions need to shift the paradigm of sexuality, she added. Kiran Bhatia, advisor, Gender and Socio-Cultural Research, Country Services Team for South and West Asia, UNFPA presented a regional perspective on eliminating Violence against Women.

She said, gender based violence encompasses wide range of human rights violations, its consequences encompass deep psych-ological scars, damages health and well-being. “In Asia, at least 60 million girls are missing due to prenatal sex selection, infanticide or neglect. Each year up to 800,000 people are trafficked across borders as many as 80 per cent of them are women and girls, mostly exploited in the commercial sex trade. Despite the government efforts, the gender-based violence is growing with impunity,” she said presenting her paper.

Minister for Women Children and Social Welfare Durga Shrestha said the government has always been active to address the issues of violence against women. “Conflict has resulted to further violation hence the election in the country will restore the peace.”