OP-ED

Right to Self-decision on Marriage

Bimala Shrestha, 50, of Inaruwa remained unmarried as she devoted her youth in taking care of her siblings. Now she is being treated unfairly by her own siblings for whom she sacrificed her prime. Now her siblings look down upon her. She is hurt by their behavior yet can’t even share her pain to anyone.

Similarly, 40 years old Radha Pokharel is discriminated by her own elder brother and his wife for remaining unmarried. She started living with them after the sad demise of her father. Since then she has been working like a slave and in return they treated her well. Now her health started deteriorating and she is unable to work hard. Therefore victimized and tortured by her own elder brother and his wife.

Radha recalls, when she was young and energetic, they used her like a maid, but later her sister-in-law started beating her up and was eventually pushed away from the house.“When I was young and could work hard everybody loved me. Now I have become weaker and cannot work hard. Now they treat me as an ill omen and the neighbours too approve it. I have nowhere to go. Such discrimination and stigma attached to remaining single hurts me most,” she adds.

Discrimination against single women has followed a set pattern. Mana Maya Rai of Bhojpur moved to Dhahran after being victimized and tortured by her own brother and sister-in-law for not being able to contribute to household chores due to ill health. In spite of innumerable challenges and disturbances she is surviving by working at one teashop in Dhahran.

Domestic violence constitutes physical, psychological and emotional torture inflicted upon a woman by her family members or those who are close relatives, according to the Domestic Violence (Crime and Punishment) Act, 2008. Such acts are punishable under the law, but the perpetrators have not been punished as they should have been. That’s why the incidents of violence has remained unabated.

According to Shakuntala Bhandari, President of Paralegal Committee, Sunsari District, since single women are dependent on others for their livelihood, they don’t care about legal remedy  due mainly to their ignorance of the existence of laws against domestic violence.

 

It is the right of an individual woman whether to marry or not. Most of the women stay unmarried either by their choice or due to family values. Comments passed by the society, families and relatives to those women who remain unmarried are also a kind of violence against women.   

A woman has the right to decide on whether to marry or not. It’s a choice of a woman and in most of the cases women find alternatives to wedlock in taking care of their siblings and spend all their entire life hoping that they can spend remaining life by staying single. They cannot foresee that they might be treated like a slave. They are victimized by their own family members but remain quiet and never seek for legal remedy, says advocate Bhandari. The female survivors of domestic violence do not complain about it for the fear that it might tarnish the image of the individual and the prestige of the family, she adds.

Due to the lack of proper implementation of legal provisions, most of the survivors of domestic violence remain quiet. Because of lack of awareness among the survivors, it has become difficult to get them file their complaints. On top of that they are also concerned about their safety and security once they file complaints against their family members.

Unmarried women who suffer from domestic violence are different from other women survivors of the violence. Even though they are victimized, they don’t speak. They don’t even register their case to the police. Therefore their pain is not recorded anywhere. Another reason behind the violence against women is their lack of access to property. Daughters cannot inherit parental property as easily as sons. Their family members and relatives compel them to marry even by resorting to unethical ways like even assassinating their character. It makes women vulnerable even in their family. According to Bhandari, even though many women have been victimized they remain silent due to lack of smooth, quick and assured legal remedies.

According to Sunita Karki, Program Coordinator of Maiti Nepal, Sunsari, it is not necessary that only married women are successful. Counseling is imperative for unmarried women and right counseling helps them to make an informed decision on different aspects of their life.

According to Sunita, most of them passed their marriageable age as they engrossed themselves in looking after the house hold and taking care of their siblings. As time passes by they start feeling lonely. No one understands their problem not even the society and family. Many unmarried and single women suffer from mental distress, live in orphanage and old age home, attempt suicide and eventually become depressed which leads to an isolated life, being detached from the society.

 

Nilifa Subba  
Sancharika Feature Service

Follow us on Facebook

Send this to friend