‘Pothi Bashio’: Security of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) in Nepal
“Pothi Bashio”- This Nepali proverb perfectly capture the essence of general feeling of Nepalese society towards women, who “speak”. Women with “voice” consider to be immoral, inauspicious and a rebel who are dangerous to the society and who must be crushed. However, with more than 7000 women human rights defenders in Nepal this notion against women with the ‘voice’ is being challenged. Despite the increasing presence and recognition of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Nepal, the defenders face high security risk while working (both at community level as well as at National level). Security risk stems not only from ―criminals or alleged perpetrators but also, in many cases, from members of the very community they are working for. These threats range from minor verbal abuse to physical abuse as well as social stigma targeting not only WHRDs but their family members as well.
This paper explores the nature of violence faced by the WHRDs and the strategies used by them to minimize the impact of violence. This paper also attempts to investigate on the reason behind such attacks and its link to patriarchy. The research uses qualitative approach where narratives of WHRDs have been used to understand the risks, vulnerabilities and threats faced by the WHRDs. The paper also analyzes the individual and as well as institutional capacities and strategies used by WHRDs to minimize the threats or impacts of these threats. Some additional interviews have been taken with victims, police officers and community leaders. The paper aims to contribute in development of safeguard/ protection strategies that is relevant to WHRDs working in Nepal. This paper is a part of ongoing research project “Security and Protection for WHRD in Nepal” funded by Liberty and Peace Foundation-Nepal.