Press Release: Interaction between the Federal/Provincial Parliamentarians, District Coordination Committee, Local Government and WHRDs on Access to Justice
28 May 2020: KATHMANDU
On the occasion of 13th Republic Day and International Day of Action on Women’s Health, Association of District Coordination Committees of Nepal (ADCCN) and National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD) jointly organized an interaction program titled “Access to Justice”. This interaction program was organized on May 28 2020 from 11 am to 2 pm, virtually through Zoom. It included the participation of federal and province parliamentarians, Chairs and Deputy Chairs of local level and District Coordination Committee.
Dr. Renu Adhikari, Chairperson of NAWHRD, welcomed all participants highlighting the difficulties being faced by women at community due to absence of mechanism for justice in spite of escalating number of violence against women during this lockdown period. “We should address the issues faced by women in an institutionalized manner”, said Sita Sundas, Chairperson of Association of District Coordination Committees of Nepal (ADCCN).
Deputy Chairs of the local municipalities shared the problems they have been facing while working as coordinators of the Judicial Committee. High numbers of cases of Violence against Women (VAW) during the lockdown, non-prioritization of VAW cases by local government structure and the police, lack of women-friendly quarantine and psychosocial services to victims along with lack of competent human resources and ongoing lawmaking process at the local level were some of the issues faced by the local government representatives. Local government representatives also shared the difficulties to provide support to women during their antenatal checkups and delivery due to lack of transportation and other support mechanisms, despite their continuous efforts to support as these services are not considered as essential services. Similarly, Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) working actively on the ground level shared that women are facing increased risks inside their homes but since the justice committees have been closed in lockdown, it has increased the perpetrators’ courage to further harm the women. This has led to an increase in suicide cases among women.
In response, Hon. Parliamentarian Dr. Binda Pandey emphasized the role of women’s participation in decision-making levels and gender sensitivity in leadership to address the issues of violence against women, reproductive rights, and lack of access to justice. To take the issues raised by the local representatives forward, Hon. Bidhya Bhattarai suggested that the federal lawmakers should inform COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) about this issue, organize a meeting with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Health and Population, and Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizen, and monitor the handling of VAW cases by the local level. She expressed commitment to take lead to take these issues to the committee and state mechanisms.
Executive Secretary General of Association of District Coordination Committees of Nepal (ADCCN) Krishna Chandra Neupane also shared that the government needs to have an integrated management mechanism for disasters and pandemics. He added that to solve the sensitive issue of women, justice committees should work in integration with education, health, economic empowerment, and social inclusion.
“The work being done by deputy chairs of local levels as coordinators of justice committee is very appreciative, as they work closely with women in need of justice”, said Bimala Rai Paudyal, member of National Assembly of Federal Parliament of Nepal. The program ended with the lawmakers’ commitment to addressing the issues presented by local government representatives through a concrete plan.
Dr. Renu Adhikari
Chairperson, National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD)
About us: National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD) is a collective platform that promotes rights of women human rights defenders all over Nepal. It is a loose forum of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) and associated organizations that was officially established in 2007 in order to address the contemporary challenges being faced by WHRDs. This network is currently functional in all 77 districts of the country, represented by different self-representative women right groups and movements.
National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders
Ghumti Kumari Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal