High-spirited and motivated, the 113 women entrepreneurs engaged in the Buddhist Circuit in South Asia program were ready to begin the program in search of support for their businesses. However, in patriarchal countries with incessant issues of gender-based violence, it is not always up to the women for what her future will hold. Women entrepreneurship will not be successful unless the issue of GBV is discussed.
To develop an understanding and to address the issue of GBV in Kapilvastu, the TSCPL team met with Ravi Thakur and Laxmi Shrestha, who work with Madhesh Human Rights Home (MAHURI HOME) in Kapilvastu. MAHURI HOME was established in 2008 to defend, safeguard, monitor, protect, and promote human rights, social cohesion, and peace. MAHURI HOME with its headquarters in Taulihawa, is committed to empowering women, as well as underprivileged, socially excluded and oppressed, indigenous and minority communities.
According to a World Bank Report, In 2017, 149 people were killed as a result of GBV in Nepal. Of these victims, 140 were female, 75 of whom were killed because of domestic violence. Moreover, 163 out of 680 documented cases, the main perpetrator was a family member or relative.
Covid-19 has caused a multitude of problems for women throughout Nepal regarding employment opportunities as well as GBV related issues. For example, due to the major role played by women in healthcare services, they are potentially more at risk of contracting the virus as well as dealing with stigma from the general population. Additionally, Infected women are placed in quarantine centers which are not gender friendly. During lockdowns, gender-based and sexual violence, including rape or attempted rape, murder or attempted murder, suicide or attempted suicide, sexual misconduct and cybercrime, have risen as reported by various rights activist.
The issue of GBV is not a new issue, or an effect of lockdown. It has been an ongoing issue that has stunted the growth and development of women throughout the country. Limited by behaviors and beliefs from years past, a survey by UNFPA of 900 women in Nepal discovered that 61% had faced violence during their marriage, about which they never reported. Additionally, 27% experienced physical violence in their marriages, 15% experienced sexual violence, 9% of those surveyed were aware that rape within marriage is illegal, and only 13% were aware of the laws against domestic violence.
The uptick in GBV related crimes is evident while looking at the number of complaints registered on a 24-hour toll-free helpline one year ago during the first lockdown in Nepal. Whereas a total of 885 complaints of domestic violence were received by the National Women Commission from April to June 2020. This was over twice the number of complaints received within the same period before lockdown.
The entrepreneurs engaged in the program, have found their actions, communication, and ability to leave the house stifled. By focusing on building relationships first with the entrepreneurs and work second, the team has been made aware of instances of GBV that affect the women and their businesses. Therefore, to address such issues of Gender Based Violence and provide support to the entrepreneurs in the group, TSCPL in coordination with MAHURI HOME will conduct training programs focused on GBV.
The program will be focused on increasing awareness, understanding of GBV related issues and laws, the ability to recognize GBV, and provide possible solutions to the entrepreneurs. The goal of the training program is not only to assist the entrepreneurs engaged in the program, but also to develop leaders at the community level.