Nirmala Pant’s Murder Case: UN Questions Women Rights in Nepal

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women Dubravka Šimonovic termed Nirmala Pant’s murder issue as a serious ‘test case’ for Nepal Government.
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Nirmala Pant’s Murder Case: UN Questions Women Rights in Nepal

Seems, Nirmala Pant’s rape and murder case in Nepal is taking different turns, posing a serious challenge for government functioning in the country.

After a round of local-level protests, now the case has gone forward to draw the attention of international bodies like United Nations.

In a recent update, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women Dubravka Šimonovic termed Nirmala Pant’s murder issue as a serious ‘test case’ for Nepal Government in its respect for international human rights laws.

The UN officer said this in a press briefing on November 29, 2018, while presenting preliminary findings from her report on the state of sexual violence in Nepal.

UN Special Rapporteur Dubravka Šimonovic Nepal Visit

The ongoing case of Nirmala Pant is a test case for the government,” said Šimonovic. “My mandate will closely follow any developments in this case, in the hope that it will be effectively resolved in line with the human rights standards, as adopted by Nepal,” she added.

UN’s Assessment of Nirmala’s Case

The UN official’s statements are backed by her assessment of the situation during her 10-day-stay in Nepal.

Over the past 10 days, Šimonovic held meetings with various senior ministry-level officials including Minister of Women, Children and Senior Citizens Tham Maya Thapa, Attorney General Agni Prasad Kharel, Supreme Court Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla and various representatives from National Women’s Commission, National Human Rights Commission, international organisations and survivors of sexual violence.

When asked about outcomes of her meetings, she said, “I have requested more information on the case and have told them I would be following up.”

She pointed at gaps in Nepal’s development of legal framework in line with the international standards, to safeguard women rights.

“Prevalence of harmful practices such as Chhaupadi shows contradictions between high-level standards and the realities of women and girls who are still subjected to such practices. There are many laws that address those practices but those laws are still not being implemented. The main challenge is to ensure these laws and policies are fully implemented at the federal, provincial and local level,” adds Šimonovic.

According to her, there are also other laws with considerable gaps in implementation, besides women-related ones.

The UN official also found fault with provisions in the country’s Nepal Citizenship Act stating that it fails to grant a woman the same rights as a man to pass on citizenship to a child.

She said that this aspect of the Act doesn’t comply with Article 9 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Convention, which Nepal has already agreed to.

Šimonovi also criticized the country’s Foreign Employment Act, stating that it limits foreign employment opportunities for women. “This banning of foreign domestic work is pushing women, particularly displaced or indigenous Dalit women and girls, into irregular immigration which is extremely dangerous,” she added.

Other key observations and recommendations that Šimonovic’s made to the government include:

  • Amendment of unequal provisions in the Citizenship and the Foreign Employment Act
  • Expediting the appointment of commissioners on the National Women’s Commissions
  • Speeding up the process to adopt a bill needed to amend the 2014 Enforced Disappearance Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Act
  • Issues with regard to the implementation of other laws
November 30, 2018 |

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