|DESPERATE MEASURES: Nawalparasi women protest police inaction at the recent spate of domestic murders.|
Last month, four women in Rupandehi and Nawalparasi districts lost their lives due to domestic violence in the same week. In all these cases the husband and his family were involved.
Human rights activists and various organisations had declared Nawalparasi and Rupandehi domestic violence-free districts in the first week of December but a recent spate of wife murders suggests otherwise.
On 22 January, 23-year old Manauti Saru was killed with a sharp weapon by her husband, Sher Bahadur Saru, a police constable who was still on duty at the time. He disposed of Manauti's body in the Giruwari River, 3km away, with the help of his family. After Manauti's family filed charges against Sher Bahadur and his family, the police took them into custody.
In Pragatinagar (Nawalparasi), Ganesh Sapkota hanged his wife, Chandrakala Sapkota to death. On hearing about Chandra Kala's murder, her family too filed charges at the police station in Kawasoti. Police have arrested Ganesh and according to DSP Keshavraj Bhattarai, both cases are under investigation.
In another incident, 37-year old Resham Thapa beat his wife Krishna Thapa to death in the Laligurans Hotel in Butwal at 1AM. Krishna had taken her husband to Butwal for a medical check up. He was arrested on the spot and charges have been levelled against him.
After the series of domestic violence cases , women in Nawalparasi blocked the highway and demanded that the police and the administration take strong action against those responsible.
Legal advocate and journalist Hari Narayan Regmi says, "The increasing violence against women is the result of widespread poverty and lack of awareness amongst the people."
Two year s ago, Ek Narayan Gaudel murdered his sister-in-law Sabitri Gaudel and was recently released from prison. Family sources claim he was set free after paying Rs 600,000 in bribes. Ek Narayan has even managed to flee the country. Sabitri's family blame the carelessness of the police and the administration in letting Ek Narayan off scot-free.
The area police office in Nawalpur stated that the investigation into Chandrakala's murder took longer because her post-mortem report was inconclusive. Her body has been sent to Kathmandu for further investigation after Bharatpur Hospital failed to ascertain whether her death was a murder or not.
Police sub-inspector Yam Bahadur Bohara, who is investigating the two cases of domestic violence in Kawasoti says: "the recent rise in the number of domestic violence cases is because people believe that during this time of insurgency, any crime can be easily hidden."
"Inadequate laws, family background, social outlook towards women and lack of awareness amongst women are responsible for the increasing number of domestic violence," says Parvati Tiwari, a human rights worker and the chairman of Himwanti Nepal.
Gita Khanal, the sister of the deceased Chandrakala Sapkota says, "Men still think of women as subordinate to them." Gita fears that her sister's murderer will get away scot-free.