Nepal’s Acts and Regulations prevent implementation of Laws against VAW: Social Activist Arjun Kumar Tamang 

Woman protesting against VAW in Kathmandu,Nepal

Arjun Kumar Tamang, is a social activist from Nawalparasi, a district in South Western plains of Nepal. Tamang, a person with disabilities that restrict the performance of his left part of the body, has been associated with National Federation of the Disabled, Nepal (NFDN) as its regional coordinator for 15 districts in the region in the past and continues working for the welfare of the specially-abled in the region. After working in this field for nearly a decade now, Tamang is presently program coordinator for a European Union funded project aimed at the welfare of specially-abled community in the district, implemented at the local level by a non-profit NGO, Sunaul Samudayik Bikash Kendra, Nawalparasi.

Chitra Raj Bhandari of The Oslo Times, caught up with Tamang along the sidelines of a Training for Trainers on Gender issues program organized by Stri Shakti, Nepal, a non-profit that specializes in organizing trainings, advocacy, awareness and income generation programs for women, among others, in Nepalgunj and discussed issues surrounding women rights and empowerment, among others. Excerpts:

Social Activist Arjun Tamang

Social Activist Arjun Tamang

As we are talking about women today, can you tell us your interpretation of women rights?

For me women rights mean the justified distribution of resources to women for making them feel equal to men and to increase their access and control in the decision making process than other groups.

There are around 1502 rape cases pending trial at the Supreme Court with counts of girls being raped and abused increasing on a daily basis. In these contexts how relevant do you find the Nepal’s laws on violence against women?

In terms of legislation, Nepal’s laws are not bad. In fact they are of international standards that are laudable in the World. To supplement the implementation of laws, acts and regulations are prepared. However these very acts and regulations restrict the implementation of laws against violence against women including domestic and gender based violence. This should be corrected for improving the present situation of VAW, and abuses.

Many women and girls are raped, abused and victimized on a daily basis. What do you think is the actual cause behind these crimes?

The only factor for all these crimes, be it sexual violence, domestic violence or abuses, is the internal unexpressed desires that are embedded within human beings. Though these are present in every one of us, in some these are manifested at the surface level and are expressed through violent activities due to lack of resistance in them from materializing them.
One of the means to control these types of crimes, is through social counseling. In the past we had special courses on moral education, these types of courses should be brought in at higher level of eduction also. Additionally, bringing in programs that aim at psycho social counseling can be beneficial in reducing such incidences in the society.

There are many awareness and advocacy programs and campaigns like trainings, discussions and workshops, among others, in Nepal run by government and non-government agencies. How relevant do you find these type of programs?

These types of programs do have positive implications. Even if awareness programs do not transform the minds of all those who participate in it or are targeted, these types of programs can bring changes in the thinking pattern of some of them. That is an social campaignsachievement.

Social campaigns, for instance, this training on gender issues that we are participating in, is making us aware of the relationship between gender and development, the importance and means of increasing women’s participation in development, the importance and implications of increasing women’s access and presence in the decision making process at the household, community and the national level. Even if we don’t do anything substantial to materialize this knowledge at the national level, we will be aware of promoting women’s participation in decision making process at the household, communal or in the social development activities. Even if we implement this knowledge in our personal life, we can bring changes. Society can change, but we have to start doing it. And we should start it from ourselves.

What do you understand by gender activism?

As part of the postmodernist philosophy, gender activism stresses on building cordial relationship between men and women. As part of the this activism, development activities focus on equitable division of resources between men and women while prioritizing justifiable equality between them for holistic development of the society.

As a social development activist, what is your message for activists like you around the World?

As far as possible everyone of us should make the correct use of our rights. Only being aware is not sufficient, being human we should also dedicate ourselves in making others aware of the correct use of their rights as well. Most importantly knowing is only not sufficient, unless we actualize those understandings in our actual life and desist from abusing others rights. There are many instances of human rights violation in Nepal and across the World due to lack of control in human beings from dessisting in abusing others human rights. Respecting others rights is equally important to enjoying our personal rights. If we practice what we know is good and desist from doing what is bad, the present condition of human rights abuses across the World will definitely improve.

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