Meeting with Key Officials
Saathi as a pioneer NGO working for domestic violence since 17 years has been advocating for the passage of domestic violence (DV) legislation for more than a decade. In this process meeting with Bindra Hada, the secretary of the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare was set up on 1st April. The Ministry's role in promoting DV legislation was discussed during the meeting. Bandana Rana president of Saathi, also inquired about the status of the Bill and requested the Ministry to push for its passage. The secretary also suggested the President of Saathi to meet with the speaker of the Constituent Assembly (CA).
Immediately on 2nd April, a meeting took place with Manohar Bhattarai secretary at the Parliament Secretariat. Saathi's representative requested him to fix an appointment with the speaker and also asked him to help create conducive atmosphere for the passage of the Bill.
A meeting was also held with Chair and members of National Commission of Women on 3rd April to discuss and plan strategies to advocate/lobby for the passing of the Domestic Violence Legislation
Formation of Pressure Group on Domestic Violence Legislation
On 5th April Saathi conducted a meeting with various national level NGO's working in the area of violence against women. The meeting was moderated by Saathi President Bandana Rana. 22 NGO's participated in this meeting and the meeting decided to form a Pressure Group on Domestic Violence Legislation. As such a pressure group was formed with Saathi as the Coordinator and NGO's as members of the pressure group. The members of this Pressure Group are all leading national level NGOs that have been working in the area of violence against women. (Please refer to annex 1) The meeting also decided to strengthen advocacy and join hands with the National Women's Commission to organize a public meeting on 12th April.
Public Interaction Program on Domestic Violence Legislation
As per the decisions reached by the Pressure Group an Interaction program was organized on 12th April jointly by the Pressure Group and the National Women's Commission. The entire program was coordinated by Saathi. Minister of Women Children and Social Welfare Mr. Ram Charan Chaudhary was invited as the Chief Guest for the program. CA Members Sapana Pradhan Malla representing the UML, Dr. Arzu Deuba representing Nepali Congress and Yashodha Subedi representing Maoist Party were invited as speakers.
At the start of the program Bandana Rana, President of Saathi presented an overview of the present situation of domestic violence citing recent case studies and research that Saathi had conducted. She also highlighted the obstacles that organizations who are actively involved in providing support services to victims are facing in the absence of the domestic violence law and expressed commitment to work towards raising awareness and monitoring the effective implementation of the Bill once it is passed.
During the program Hon CA Member Sapana Pradhan Malla highlighted the present status of the Domestic Violence Bill that had already been tabled in the Parliament. She said it is better than previous draft bills as intensive consultation and highest number of amendments had been proposed which have been incorporated in the Bill. She added that the Bill is good in terms of reporting procedures for victims, compensation, rehabilitation, etc. She also said that passing the DV Bill alone would not end the plight of the sufferers, equally important would be the establishment of service centres and information of the content of the Bill to the general public.
Similalry CA Member Arzu Deuba who is also the former president of Saathi opined that though the Bill has been reformed time and again, it still does not incorporate issues related to third gender and live in partners. She also highlighted the importance of strengthening the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare and National Commission for Women for the effective implementation of the Bill.
Hon CA Member Yashoda Subedi who is also the chair of the Legislative Committee in the CA informed that there was much consensus within the parliament to pass the Bill and said that if there is no political disturbance the Bill would be one of the first one to be passed within this parliament session. However she said that the passing of the bill alone would not end violence, but a social revolution would help in improving the status of women and bringing equality.
Minister for Women Children and Social Welfare Ram Charan Chaudhary expressed the Ministry's commitment towards the issue and requested the women's movement to work with the same zeal for the implementation of the Bill once it would be passed from the Parliament.
Chair of the National Commission for Women who had chaired the meeting Nain Kala Thapa opined that dependency and lack of education among women resulted in violence against women. She added that the media could play an important role in raising awareness.
Submitting Memorandum to Speaker of the CA
On 15th April President of Saathi Bandana Rana led a delegation of 22 NGO representatives of the Pressure Group to meet the Speaker Mr. Subash Chandra Nembang of the CA at his office. The delegation submitted the memorandum (please refer to annex 2) to the speaker demanding him to create a conducive environment within the parliament to pass the Domestic Violence legislation immediately. The Speaker in response promised that the Bill would be the first to be tabled by the second meeting of the CA. He requested to the NGOs to then play an effective role in its dissemination and implementation.
The CA passes the Domestic Violence Legislation
The Domestic Violence Act entitled "Legislation to Control and Manage Domestic Violence" was passed by the CA after 9 pm on 19th April. Saathi being the first organization in Nepal to work on domestic violence since 1992 and having intensively advocated for the Bill for more than a decade felt that this achievement needed to be celebrated amongst all those who had contributed to the Bill. Thus To celebrate this victory, Saathi organized a get together and tea program on 22nd April. More than 250 people including CA Members from different political parties, Women's Rights Activists, Representatives from leading NGO's, journalists and student leaders attended the gathering.
Pressure Group For The Passage of Domestic Violence Legislation
SAATHI - Coordinator
Women for Human Rights (Single Women Group)
Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre
National Network against Girls Trafficking (NNAGT)
Forum for Women, Law, and Development (FWLD)
Women Security Pressure Group (WSPG)
National Health Foundation (NHF)
Rural Women Unity and Development Centre (RWUDC)
We Can Campaign