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UN expert urges Nepal to step up fight against impunity and to secure access to justice for victims of gender-based violence

GENEVA (29 November 2018) – Nepal has taken significant steps towards ending discrimination and gender-based violence against women and now must strengthen implementation of its new laws, ensuring access to justice and conformity with international human rights standards, a UN expert said today.

"Despite this progress, available data indicates that gender-based violence against women is the leading identifiable trigger for violent deaths of women in Nepal in 2017," Dubravka Šimonović said at the end of her first fact-finding visit to the country.

Šimonović urged Nepal to establish a femicide observatory and to focus on the preventable gender-related killings and high number of suicides of women. "The rate of suicides is extremely worrying and may be linked to the fact that victims of violence feel that they cannot escape, often due to fear for their lives, or family pressure to reconcile with the perpetrator," said the Special Rapporteur on violence against women.

"The persistence of deeply rooted patriarchal social norms and harmful practices like chhaupadi, witchcraft accusations, child marriages and son preference lead to a social stigma attached to reporting violence, and normalisation of violence as a way of life. This also disproportionately affects women and girls who face intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination, such as Dalit, indigenous women, including Madhesi, Tharu, and Badi, those from religious minorities and with disabilities, women living in remote areas, single women and widows, and LBTI and migrant women," the independent expert said.

Insufficient safe shelters and lack of awareness among women of their rights contributed to the high level of impunity of perpetrators, Šimonović said, with 66 per cent of women who had experienced physical or sexual violence choosing not to seek help (National Demographic Health Survey Nepal, 2016).

"The main challenge now is to ensure that new laws and policies are fully implemented and that access to justice is strengthened," the expert said. "The limited capacity to guarantee full and effective investigation of cases does little to discourage perpetrators and remains a serious problem in preventing cases of violence against women in Nepal. This must be addressed as a matter of priority."

The independent expert also expressed concern about the increasing number of trafficking cases, particularly in border areas.

During her 10-day mission, Simonovic met with senior Government and parliamentary committee officials, international organisations, development agencies, and a range of civil society and grass root organisations.

The UN Special Rapporteur will present her findings and recommendations in a report to the Human Rights Council in June 2019.

ENDS

Ms. Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015, to recommend measures, ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences. Ms. Šimonović has been member of the CEDAW Committee from 2002 to 2014. She headed the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and was the Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Croatia to the UN in New York. She was also Ambassador to the OSCE and UN in Vienna. She co-chaired the Ad hoc Committee (CAHVIO) of the Council of Europe that elaborated the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).She has a PhD in Family Law and published books and articles on human rights and women’s rights.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Nepal

For more information and media requests, please contact Orlagh McCann in Geneva (+41 22 917 9902 / omccann@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:  Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org