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Community-based mediation is having positive effect on domestic violence in Nepal

Page history last edited by Rosemary 12 years, 3 months ago

Being a community-based mediator in domestic violence cases is not for the faint-hearted. Saru Tamang has been slapped, verbally abused and threatened by male members of her village in Kavre District when she has gone to mediate in domestic violence cases. The village has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country, say local rights activists. “But nothing discouraged me. I have been trained to endure abuse until I achieve my goal,” Tamang told IRIN.

Tamang is among 88 women in the district to have recently completed training as a peer pressure volunteer to prevent, detect and respond to any form of violence. “The work is very challenging but the impact of mediation is already showing,” said Rangaraj Dhungana, executive director of local NGO National Health Foundation (NHF), which provided the training with the support of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

The volunteers were also trained to raise awareness of the impact of violence on reproductive health among new mothers and pregnant women.

Domestic violence is widespread, says the National Women’s Commission, a government body - a view shared by human rights NGO Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) which says assault, group beatings by in-laws, dowry-related murders and mental torture are quite common. The lack of laws against domestic violence means perpetrators often get away with it, activists said.

“Violence against women takes place even for simple reasons, like cooking bad food, waking up late or not providing enough dowry,” said Subhadra Ale, a police officer from the Nepal Police Women’s cell in Janakpur, Dhanusa District, 400km southeast of Kathmandu. The city has one of the worst records of violence against women, according to unofficial police records.

Many police and lawyers in Janakpur agree that community-based mediation has so far proven to be the best way of tackling the problem. “Our focus is on the protection of the victimised women. So far mediation seems to be effective and has positive results,” lawyer Balkrishna Karki of the Legal Aid Consultancy Centre (LACC) told IRIN. LACC is a prominent NGO providing free legal support to impoverished families and women unable to afford the services of lawyers. The NGO has also been training social workers, government health staff, police and political activists to work as peer pressure volunteers to mediate in the community to reduce gender-based violence.

The mediation usually involves counselling, with both victim and abuser sitting together.

“Right now, mediation is key to preventing further violence and failure to use this method could make the situation worse for women,” said activist Hemlata Sigdel, field coordinator of the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), a national women’s rights NGO. Sigdel also sounded an optimistic note, saying victims and abusers were now approaching volunteers like her to mediate in their domestic problems.

This story, originally entitled NEPAL: Tackling domestic violence not for the faint-hearted and datelined Kavre 5 January 2009, was written and distributed by IRIN, the humanitarian news service. The photo, by Naresh Newar of IRIN News, shows female peer pressure volunteers preparing themselves for community-based mediation.


For more stories about Nepal, see:

Trekking training empowers Nepalese women

Ten young women who climbed Everest inspire Nepal's youth, women to dream big

Female health care volunteers save childrens' lives in remote Nepal

Gift, and teacher's wish, links remote Nepal villages with the world

Life-changing gift of education for Nepalese girls began with one man’s generosity

Linking the health community to resources and each other in Nepal

Nepal's first composting toilets win converts, nurture gardens

Reducing brain drain, building local economy in Nepal

Small is beautiful; Nepal pioneers appropriate, affordable technology


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