By Drishti Silwal
Incidents of sexual violence and sexual abuse are frequently heard in Nepal.Even though the names of the incumbent Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara and former Minister ModnathPrashrita are found to be involved in such cases, it is found that the political parties often try to save their cadres and leaders found to be involved in such cases.
The case of actor Pal Shah is now in court. After the CPN (UML) nominated Keshav Sthapit, who was accused of sexual misconduct by two women, presented as the mayoral candidate of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, the debate on the issue of sexual violence has started once again.The UML’s candidacy of Sthapit has definitely affected the minds of many who are trying to discourage sexual misconduct in society.
The fact that a party like UML, which is said to be fighting for women’s emancipation and rights, has fielded a candidate accused of sexual misconduct in the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has sent a message that parties including UML are not sensitive to violence against women.
Sthapit has passed insensitive remarks during a public programs and his act of humiliating women and assasinating their character has drawn serious attention from WOREC, the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders, and other organizations working in the field of human rights. The organizations stated that it was reprehensible and legally punishable as Sthapit still practiced questioning women’s character instead of clarifying the allegations against him.
Former Kathmandu Metropolitan City employee Rashmila Prajapati and journalist UjjwalaMaharjan had, through social media few years ago, revealed that they had been sexually abused by Sthapit a in the past. Rashmila had alleged that Sthapithad repeatedly pressurized her to go to Nagarkot and spend ‘quality time’ offering her promotion and sacked her from the job when she rejected the offer.Ujjala stopped picking up the phone after being harassed by Sthapit with continuous calls every night.
Certainly, women from such prestigious families had not accused him of sexual misconduct for any personal biasedness.In Nepali society where issues like sexual misconduct and rape are also linked to women’s dignity and respect, women do not bring out such things unnecessarily.Rashmila and Ujjwawala also kept silent for sometimes saying ‘Let it be’.Rashmila and Ujjwala got the courage after starting the ‘#metoo Campaign’ in India and Nepal.
Former General Secretary of the CPN-UML and current Chairman of the Unified Socialists Madhav Kumar Nepal has revealed the extent of sexual misconduct and bigotry within the CPN-UML.It is because of the tendency to generalize sexual violence and misconduct that the cases of harassment had increased within the Communist Party.Those who look at women with sexual eyes are scattered within the party.Nepal revealed such a trendwhile he was in the UML.
Leader Nepal was pointing to the leaders and activists of the Oli faction, saying, “Bad conduct has been increasing.They target the other’s wife.The wife of the martyr has been targeted.There is no sweetness in speech.There is only arrogance, there is no humility.”
Since an election is an opportunity to create a good environment by choosing the right candidate with a good attitude and character, voters must think ten times before appointingsuch a person.The question is not only of Rashmila and Ujjwala but of the entire women community, who are suffering from violence, oppression, rape, and patriarchal thinking.
If the UML, which nominates the accused of sexual misconduct to important positions, generalizes the issue of sexual violence, how can one believe that such a party will formulate policies and implement plans in the interest of women in the coming days? The question is not of character, but instinct. So why not make this election an opportunity to raise voice against violence against women?