News Digest: Human Rights, Gender and Social Inclusion (September 9 – 15, 2021)

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Human Security

Every year, when water from the Rapti and other rivers enters the settlements in Banke district,  the flood victims of that region are brought to the Banke forest for safety. According to the officer of the Division Forest Office (DFO), nearly 3,600 flood-affected families are living in the forests of the district. However, due to a lack of resettlement and rehabilitation from the government, they cannot move out and gradually, forests become their permanent home. The issue of illegal settlement and land encroachment has been raised by the DFO. According to the Forest Office, 575.72 hectares of forests have been encroached upon in Banke and nearly 42 per cent of those living in forests are not flood victims. The DFO worries that allowing flood victims to stay in the jungle indefinitely has  also opened the door for non-victims to come and build illegal structures on forested land. 

The Foreign Employment Board (FEB) had allocated Nrs. 750 million after the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security prepared a guideline to rescue and repatriate Nepali migrant workers stranded due to COVID-19 pandemic during foreign employment.  However, only a small fraction of the budget allocated has been spent for the repatriation of the stranded migrant workers. According to the FEB, out of the Nrs. 750 million allocated for free rescue of those stranded abroad in the fiscal year 2020/21, only Nrs. 13.5 million has been spent. The FEB and Nepali embassies abroad have been accused of avoiding the task of repatriation by showing little interest in utilizing the fund. However, according to the Officials at the Labour Ministry, lack of coordination and efficiency is the main issue.

Violence Against Woman

A Nepali girl sold to an Indian brothel at the age of 13, by her aunt, promising her a job at a paper factory has finally returned to Nepal after 7 years. After six years of continues struggle from the survivor’s mother to lode an FIR,  the police registered a case of human trafficking on  31st January 2020. According to the police, there is no evidence that the girl was sold so they have not arrested anyone yet. However, the District Police Office in Surkhet, have started the investigation process by arresting the survivors’ aunt, Nandakali.

An incident of ‘Attempt to Rape’ was mediated by the village elders in Sahid Municipality-2 in Dhanusha, against the will of the victim.  The village elders tried to hush up the matter by putting pressure on the victim for an out of court settlement. The village committee agreed on providing monetary relief of Nrs. 5 lakhs to the victim on the condition that the girl should not  report the crime to the police and settle the case in the community.

A 30 years old woman from Kathmandu was beaten badly by her husband and in-laws  for allegedly practising witchcraft.  People involved in the crime have been arrested by the police based on a complaint registered by the victim.

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