Violence and gender bias:

Over the years we have seen several changes in criminal law relating to violence against women. Cruelty by husband or his family members and dowry death have been made an

offence. The definition of rape has been amended to embrace the concept of custodial rape in it. And yet in spite of the plethora of the existing laws that provide protection and justice to women against crime, violence continues to take its ruthless toll.

It is time to introspect whether these changes in criminal law have redeemed the promise that they made in stopping violence against women. Enforcing newer but stringent laws to plug the loopholes in the judicial system is the need of the hour. Though law alone cannot ensure social justice, it is however an obvious tool for empowering women.

The courts are empowered to give alimony as a monthly maintenance, which is more like a dole that the wife must stand in queue to collect every month. Property ownership in the event of the breakdown of a marriage is a different fight altogether. The husband can be reasonably certain that the cost of divorce is zero. Thus, to stay within the marriage or to quit it becomes a meaningless choice as both have

devastating consequences for women.

We need new civil laws to help women find an escape from abusive husbands. We also need a law of matrimonial property that recognises women’s contribution to the building up of a home. If we are serious about eliminating gender-based violence, we need to put a wide new range of laws in place that will economically and socially empower women.

Namita Nepal, Jhapa

Assess first:

The residents of the Kathmandu Valley are delighted by the sudden interest shown by the municipal authorities in beautifying the city. However, they should do a little research before rushing into construction projects. For example, they have started the plan to erect overhead bridges at the Ratna Park-Bag Bazaar crossroads. But one of the proposed bridges lies in the path of the annual chariot procession of White Machchindranath.

Unless the engineers plan an arch bridge as tall as Ghantaghar or a movable bridge that can be tilted upward, there is no way the chariot can pass. Is it possible that they do not have a clue about the chariot procession? I would like to suggest that the concerned authorities and engineers, and others involved in the city planning should do a cultural impact assessment before finalising any project.

N A Pityata, Kathmandu

New rules:

The Valley Police deserve thanks for introducing new rules and trying to take stern action against violators of traffic rules. Since February, traffic jams have been less frequent in the city. These days the main problems in the streets are careless overtaking from the left, lack of traffic sense among the pedestrians who cross the roads wherever they want, haphazard parking of vehicles and lack of proper lights on them.

It is, of course, unfortunate that jaywalkers cross the roads at random right under the overhead bridges.

The police should also properly organise the parking space outside the Department of Transport Management in Ekanta Kuna. I am sure police vigilance in disciplining the public will also help to make the traffic system more organised in the Valley and elsewhere too. The public should have no reservations in cooperating with the law enforcement agencies. These efforts should be continued.

S R Shrestha, Satdobato