Feminist Forum Province no. 2 was successfully organized from 9-11 February 2018 in Lahan, Siraha with the slogan, “Women’s bodily integrity, labor and recognition is a pre-requisite of federal republic democratic new Nepal.” The primary issue discussed during the forum was ‘The challenges of human rights in the republic state and harmful traditional practices.
Session on ‘Sexuality and Gender-based violence’ by LOOM
LOOM conducted a session on ‘Sexuality and Gender-based violence’ on the first day of the forum with the newly elected local government representatives, Women human rights defenders, women rights activist and civil society representatives. The moderator for the session was Rita Sah who introduced the session and its objectives. The commentators for the session were Rita Mahato (Women human rights defender from Siraha) and Dr. Namita Yadav (Vice- Mayor of Siraha Municipality).
Jyotsna Maskay, the chairperson of LOOM shared that sexuality is one of the reasons of gender-based violence. She shared some of her experiences to demonstrate that the body of women is controlled by various social institutions including family and society. She further shared the case story of Bara district where a young woman was restricted to go to school by their parents because they were fearful that their daughter could fall in love or elope in the course of school going. She added that government makes gender-friendly policies but the sexuality prevents from achieving the goal of the policy.
Some participants shared their personal experience on how it is still shameful to dry the inner clothes (Bras, underwear) in the sun because from the very beginning of our childhood where we are taught that we should not talk about our body and our bodies are to be covered.
Jyotsna Maskay also asked ‘As a women human rights defenders, are we controlling the body and sexuality of women while dealing with the gender-based violence?’. She emphasized that we need to talk about the desires and aspirations of the women rather than only labeling them as violence-affected victims.
It was followed by the remarks by Rita Mahato and Namita Yadav. Rita Mahato shared her experience of how she struggled through the violence related to tradition in her life including Child marriage and Dahej (Dowry) and her experience working as women human rights defenders to dismantle such harmful practices in her community to ensure the dignified life of the women. Dr. Namita Yadav shared her experience working as a health service provider for 12 years and her observation about the situation of women where they are still reluctant to speak out their name to the health professional. She encouraged all to end harmful traditional practices and women violence at least in their areas.
Dr. Renu Adhikari concluded the session by sharing her experience as a health service provider to women with reproductive health problems. She also thanked all the speakers and the moderator for the interactive and informative session.