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    Country Reports


Initial report dated 16 November 1998 (CEDAW/C/NPL/1)

In 1990, a popular movement in Nepal achieved a remarkably peaceful transition from absolute monarchy to multi-party democracy with a constitutional monarchy. Led by the Nepali Congress Party and the Left Front, the revolution put in place a new constitution with many important human rights provisions. Since the reforms began, however, Nepal's political landscape has been marked by frequent changes in leadership, a plethora of competing political parties, and power struggles. Six different coalition governments have ruled the country since 1990, and 1998 alone witnessed the formation of two governments. Political infighting and government corruption have caused badly needed political and economic development projects to remain stalled.

Nepal's exceptional ethnic diversity, coupled with its dispersed population, rugged terrain, and isolation are important factors in its human rights situation. Over sixty ethnic groups, speaking over fifty different languages, inhabit the country.1 Of the twenty-one million Nepali citizens, only one million reside in the Kathmandu Valley. Nepal is isolated from most of the world's land, air and sea transport routes. Calcutta, India is the only viable port of entry for goods bound for Kathmandu. Currently, only one reliable road route runs from India to the Kathmandu Valley. Twenty-two of the country's seventy-five districts lack road links altogether.

Political Situation and History

King Birendra Bir Bakram Shah Dev, monarch since 1972, continues to play a significant leadership role in the country's executive and legislative structures. According to the Constitution, executive power is shared by the monarch (who the Constitution defines as the male descendant of the royal lineage)2 and the Council of Ministers. Appointed by the king, the Prime Minister heads the Council of Ministers and is selected from the party with a parliamentary majority. The king selects Supreme Court justices and Attorney General, as well as the heads of all major government departments, including the Election Commission and the Commission on the Investigation of Abuse of Authority.

Nepal has a bicameral legislature, consisting of the National Assembly and the House of Representatives. Parliament has been dominated by the Nepali Congress Party (NCP), a party of democratic socialists that helped to spearhead the political reforms of 1990-1991. The Nepal Communist Party (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (NCP-ML), six other communist parties, and two royalist parties also have a political presence.3 All in all, over forty political parties compete for public support.

1999 General Elections

Nepal's most recent general elections were conducted in two rounds on 3 May and 17 May 1999. The country's 205 parliamentary seats were contested by 2,224 candidates,

two-thirds of whom represented political parties.4 Of the candidates, 141 women ran for office. Campaign issues included improving economic conditions, resolving territorial disputes with India and eliminating corruption.5

Although the election results are unknown at the time of this writing, four major political parties have lodged complaints with the Election Commission accusing local police, government administrations and Nepali Congress Party officials of widespread poll rigging and other irregularities. The Election Commission has cancelled elections and ordered re-polling in seventy of the 2,919 polling stations, ostensibly due to clashes between rival political groups.6

The Maoist Insurgency

Starting in 1996, a Maoist faction of Nepal's communists launched a "people's war" against the government that has left over 600 security police, insurgents and civilians dead. The insurgency began with a series of raids on police offices and landowners' homes in four of the country's most impoverished and remote areas-Rukum, Rolpa, Salyan and Jajarkot.7 Over the past three years, the insurgency has spread to thirty of the country's seventy-five districts.

The Maoist movement has its roots in the 1990 campaign against the absolute monarchy. Maoist supporters diverge from more mainstream political parties by advocating radical reforms, including abolishing the monarchy, to "bring an end to the rule of vengeful regime and to establish a people's New Democracy."8 Arguing that elections only return the same "corrupt and immoral politicians" to power,9 the group faults the government with failing to provide basic education, health and water in over 4,000 villages and urban areas.10

Domestic and international human rights groups condemn the Maoists for their terrorist tactics, which have included murder, abduction and torture in retaliation against those considered to be enemies of the "people's war."11 The group has targeted political leaders, local elites, and suspected informers, including members of the more moderate Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and the Nepali Congress Party. They have been accused of killing several candidates, and warned candidates and that "people will have to pay with their lives" if they participate in the 1999 elections.12

While acknowledging the terrorist tactics of the Maoist insurgency, human rights groups also criticize the government for its strategies, many of which have exacerbated the conflict and drawn civilians into the violence. Some human rights experts charge that the police arrested many people based on their political beliefs even though they oppose the use of violence.13 Police have allegedly arrested, tortured and gang raped women to extort information about missing Maoist men who fled the police.14 Police have reportedly denied human rights monitors access to affected areas and to political detainees.15


With an average per capita income of US $200, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to government statistics, over twenty percent of the country's total labor force is unemployed.16 Seventy-five percent of the people of Nepal live below the poverty line,17 and forty percent live in absolute poverty, defined as income inadequate to support a minimum caloric intake.18

Over eighty percent of Nepalis work as subsistence farmers, yet agricultural productivity is very low and has continued to decline over the last thirty years. Agricultural production decreased as a share of Nepal's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 61.2 percent in 1990 to 41.4 percent in 1996. There is little arable land , and the rugged terrain, lack of adequate transportation and population dispersion inhibit agricultural growth. Nepal depends heavily on the imports of basic materials and equipment for agricultural production, which is problematic for a landlocked country.

Nepal is actively trying to diversify its economy, particularly in the areas of tourism, transport, telecommunications and hydropower generation. The country's vast rivers provide potential for the development of hydroelectric resources, which is in high demand in Northern India.19

Human Rights

Most experts agree that the human rights situation in Nepal has been gradually improving since 1990. The government has abolished the death penalty, ratified many international human rights treaties, and passed important legislation such as the Human Rights Commission Act and Torture Compensation Act. Implementation and enforcement, however, have continued to be problems.20 The establishment of a Human Rights Commission has been stalled for the past three years.21

Refugees from Bhutan and Tibet

Nepal was an asylum destination for over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees (one-sixth of Bhutan's population).22 Many are ethnically Nepali and were forced out by the government of Bhutan starting in 1990 when the royal government of Bhutan declared a "one nation, one people" policy stressing the need for a "distinct national identity."23 Most Bhutanese refugees live in UNHCR-administered refugee camps in eastern Nepal. The government officially restricts work and freedom of movement, but does not strictly enforce its policies.24

Since 1959, the government of Nepal has also been providing asylum for refugees fleeing from Tibet, usually in transit to India. Approximately 20,000 Tibetan refugees are currently in Nepal, and as many as 3,000 arrive every year.25 The successive Nepali government administrations have not had a consistent policy concerning human rights for

refugees. Approximately 4,000 Tibetans lack identification cards, which prevents them from accessing basic services and traveling abroad. The government of Nepal has promised to issue identification cards to all Tibetan refugees by the end of 1999.26

Freedom of Expression and Media

Despite legislative guarantees of freedom of thought and expression, several limitations and restrictions apply. The Constitution prohibits speech and writing that would "undermine the sovereignty or integrity to the Kingdom, disturb the harmonious relations among persons of different castes or communities, promote sedition, defamation, contempt of court or crime, or contradict decent public behavior or morality."27

Many journalists report cases of harassment and censorship when reporting on the Maoist insurgency. Nepal's constitution states that "No press shall be closed or seized for printing any news item, article or other reading material."28 However, on 6 January 1999, two weekly publications, Glory and People's Command, which are said to be linked to the Maoist movement, were closed down by police. Police arrested thirteen staff members, including nationally-known journalist Shakti Lamsal.29

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, police in several cities have prevented the distribution of newspapers containing information about the fighting between the Maoists and the government.30 In July 1998, Kathmandu police "instructed transport firms not to deliver newspapers containing articles on the government's operations against Maoist rebels, and burned those copies of the offending papers that had already been loaded onto trucks and buses.31

Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)

NGOs, including women's organizations, have lobbied the government on a variety of issues since the early 1990s. For the most part, the government refrains from interfering in the activities of human rights groups. It has allowed domestic and international groups to visit prisons and prisoners, and groups may freely publish reports on human rights abuses. However, in June 1998, police arrested Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, a human rights activist, for alleged cooperation with the Maoists. The police confiscated audio and videotapes of interviews with victims of human rights violations from his office. Chintan was later released when the government failed to find evidence to convict him.32


IWRAW is grateful to Sapana Pradhan Malla, women's human rights activist and legal expert on the application of international human rights instruments to women's human rights legislation in Nepal, for providing information on the legal status of women, property and inheritance rights, and women in public life in Nepal for inclusion in this section. Much of the material in the section on violence against women is based on a September 1998 investigative report, Domestic Violence in Nepal, by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (MAHR). The report was written by Kathleen Graham and Johanna Bond. Material on trafficking in women comes mainly from Rape For Profit, a 1995 Human Rights Watch publication on the trafficking of women in Nepal and India.


The Constitution prohibits discrimination by the State on the basis of "religion, race, sex, caste, tribe or ideology."33 Marital status is not included in the definition of discrimination. The law states that all citizens are equal before the law, and that "special provisions may be made by the law for the protection and advancement" of the interests of women, children, or other traditional disadvantaged groups.34 The Constitution does not specify what constitutes discrimination, although it does mention equal pay for equal work and the right to public space and public utilities.


In its initial report, the Government of Nepal recognizes the existence of legal discrimination against women. According to the government, "girls are assigned unequal legal status in comparison to boys," and the "law is silent on the maintenance of the right of the daughter with regard to property rights since a male-child is entitled to inheritance rights from birth, but a girl-child shall acquire such property rights only if she remains unmarried up to the age of thirty-five years."35

The Government's Ninth Plan (1998-2002) displays a strong commitment to reviewing existing legislation on women and enacting appropriate laws. The Ministry of Women and Social Welfare (MWSW) is responsible for monitoring the implementation and incorporation of international women's human rights standards into domestic legislation. Although the Ministry has actively sought to adopt measures to eliminate discrimination, its programs have been limited by budgetary constraints, political infighting and a lack of political will within other government bodies.36

In 1997, the MWSW submitted a concept bill to the Ministry of Law and Justice (MLJ) that would eliminate discrimination in Nepal's property and inheritance law. The concept bill came as the result of the Supreme Court's Directive Order 3.8.195 following a discrimination law suit. The MWSW included NGOs and women's human rights activists in the Government Task Force, which was charged with drafting the concept bill. Once the bill was submitted to Parliament by the MLJ, however, the draft legislation had changed significantly, containing discriminatory provisions requiring unmarried daughters to return their share of inherited property upon marriage. The Government submitted the bill to fulfill their obligations under the Supreme Court Directive Order, but neglected to fully bring its legislation into accordance with its obligations under CEDAW. Although the Government's initial report addresses the Supreme Court Directive Order, it fails to explain what initiatives it has taken to follow the court order and guarantee equal inheritance rights for women under the law.


Customs and traditions reinforce discriminatory legal, social and economic practices relating to women in Nepal. Customary practices, particularly dowry traditions, promote the belief in the superiority of men over women throughout the life cycle and in virtually all sectors of Nepali society. The current practice of Hinduism, which is followed by eighty-five percent of the country's inhabitants and is the official religion, "supports a social order that promotes male domination and women's economic, social and emotional dependence on them."37

Dowry and Gender Stereotypes

The requirement of dowry, while officially illegal, remains widespread, particularly in the Terai region of southern Nepal. According to this tradition, the bride's family negotiates and agrees to compensate the groom's family at the time of the marriage. Though families typically negotiate the amount of the dowry before the marriage, the ceremony may occur with only a partial payment of the negotiated amount. Disputes often arise if the bride's family fails to subsequently pay the remainder of the negotiated dowry, or if the groom's family demands an increase in the previously negotiated amount. There is an implication that paying the additional amount will avert future violence against the bride.38

As a result of the dowry system, the marriage of a daughter often entails significant economic sacrifice for families, while the marriage of a son results in economic gain. The practice of dowry contributes to son preference, a prejudice that places women in an inferior position from birth and that is reinforced by many other customary practices. According to one survey, ninety percent of parents want two sons and then a daughter, and ninety-six percent prefer to have a son if given the choice of one child.39 According to traditional beliefs, a baby boy causes less morning sickness than a girl, so a pregnant woman is treated well or badly by family members according to how much she suffers from morning sickness.40

Gender Stereotypes in the Family

According to the MAHR report, the family in Nepal is the "basic organizational unit forming the infrastructure for virtually all activity: economic, social, and personal."41 The family structure follows traditional Hindu guidelines and is patrilineal, from inheritance and property rights to caring for the elderly and conducting burial rituals to

ensure parents' passage into a holy afterlife.42 As men alone have the responsibility for carrying on the family line, girls are often treated as temporary visitors on their way to married life, which often begins before puberty.43

Since women are defined and valued primarily in terms of marital and child-bearing potential, those who must live outside a family structure have little support from the legal and social systems. The following story relayed by a human rights worker in Kathmandu encapsulates the ways in which social and cultural patterns of conduct exacerbate already overt discriminatory legal practices. A woman had come to the legal aid organization and related the following story:

The woman had been married through an arrangement made by her family at a very young age. Soon after the marriage, her husband began to abuse her physically and forced her to leave their home. When she returned to her parents' home, they admonished her for failing in her marriage. Her brothers became angry that the family was supporting a married woman and began to abuse her. The woman took a job as a domestic servant. She was later raped in the marketplace by a stranger and became pregnant. While she had a legitimate legal claim to support from her husband when she was forced to leave his home, her advocates say her claim will now be denied because she cannot prove that her husband is the father of her child.44



Trafficking in women and girls is a deep-rooted social problem, particularly in poverty stricken, rural areas of the country.45 Today, most victims of trafficking are taken from remote villages in economically disadvantaged areas and sent to brothels in India. Some girls and women are abducted or falsely lured into the sex trade by professionals, some volunteer in order to escape economic hardship, and many are sold by their families.

Conservative estimates of trafficking range from 7,000 to 12,000 annually. However, one NGO estimates that each year some 40,000 women and girls are abducted into sexual slavery.46

For decades, prostitution brokers have targeted girls and women of the Tamang ethnic group, most of whom are Buddhist and come from the hill communities of central Nepal where "the flesh trade has become an almost traditional source of income."47 Although many girls are abducted or lured into prostitution from this region, such practices have been reported in virtually every district of Nepal and from all castes and ethnic groups.48 According to a Nepali children's rights group, twenty percent of prostitutes are under the age of sixteen.49 Traffickers use a variety of methods to coerce Nepali girls into prostitution, including making false job or marriage offers, drugging and kidnapping them.50

The impact of trafficking on Nepali society is devastating. It is estimated that over sixty-five percent of those who return to Nepal after serving as prostitutes have HIV/AIDS.51 Diseases contracted in brothels often leave women sterile. Researcher Vidhea Shrestha, who visited a poor farming area in northeast Nepal that is a notorious source of prostitutes, observed that "there were virtually no women between thirteen and thirty to be seen."52

The Role of the Government

Article 20 of the Constitution prohibits the trafficking in human beings, although it does not specifically address the sex trade.53 According to a national legal code called the Muluki Ain, traffickers are subject to a twenty-year prison sentence for selling a person, and a ten-year sentence for attempted sale, as well as fines equivalent to the amount of the transaction.54 Border police and local officials, however, often fail to enforce the laws. In addition, human rights groups argue that no matter what steps Nepal takes to end the sex trade, trafficking will continue unless regional strategies are adopted with the full cooperation of the Indian government.

Poor training, corruption and apathy among government officials undermine efforts to control trafficking. HRW conducted interviews with Nepali police officers, who:

acknowledged that although they had received directives from police headquarters to take trafficking seriously, there has been no systematic attempt to train police officers to identify possible culprits. The decision to stop and question a suspected trafficker, or, more commonly, a suspected trafficking victim, rests solely with the individual officer on duty, who makes the determination based on his subjective assessment of a suspect's appearance.55

Furthermore, border police often accept bribes to allow traffickers to transport girls to India. According to one villager, "If a trafficker ends up in prison it means he or she hasn't paid off the police."56

Legal and social service programs provide little support for trafficking victims, who are often shunned by their families and communities if they return to their village. The few women who escape the brothels and appeal to the Nepal police for help, or who are returned by the Indian police, are "shuttled from one police station to another as they make their way back to their home districts. 57 Some remain in police detention for weeks until their guardians come and collect them. Fearing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Government has failed to promote the rehabilitation of prostitutes. Unable to find a place in Nepali society, many women ultimately return to India."58


Women obtained the right to vote and run for office in 1951.59 Although tradition discourages women from participating in the political process, Nepal is one of just six countries in the world that legislates a minimum percentage of women for national parliament. The 1991 Constitution requires that women constitute at least five percent of each party's candidates for the House of Representatives. Twenty percent of all village and municipal level seats are reserved for female candidates.60 Prior to the May 1999 elections, seven of the 205 members of the lower house of Parliament were women, and five of the sixty members of the upper house were women.61

The majority of political party platforms include equal rights for women.62 In preparation for the 1999 general elections, some of the country's major political parties pledged to increase the number of seats allocated for women candidates in the policy-making lower house of parliament.63 The Nepali Congress and CPN-ML informally committed to allocating ten percent of Parliamentary seats to women. In reality, however, women constituted only six percent of all Parliamentary candidates, and no major party allocated more than seven percent of its seats for women candidates.64 Further, women's human rights activists maintain that parties are more concerned with the male vote, as they know that women voters can be manipulated by male voters.65


In 1991, Nepal's literacy rate was twenty-six percent for women, and fifty-seven percent for men. The 1998 Nepal Human Development Report reveals that girls comprise two-thirds of all school-age children who are not attending classes.66 The Ministry of Education has launched the Basic and Primary Education Program (BPEP), the goal of which is to narrow the gender gap in education. In addition, the Women's Education

Unit, a division of the Ministry of Education, publishes an annual report on the status of women in educational institutions. Nepali experts and activists, however, maintain that these programs do not sufficiently result in gender-specific improvements.67


Theoretically, women have equal employment opportunities with men in Nepal. According to the law, women have the same rights as men to job opportunities and promotions, equal pay for equal work, and the same rights to credit from the banking sector.68 However, women face employment and wage discrimination, especially in rural areas, where tradition, lack of education and ignorance of the law impede full protection against wage discrimination.69

Although women have an equal right to jobs, employers often see women as less desirable candidates because of their child care and family obligations. As a result of these prejudices, women must perform better than men to gain equal status with male colleagues. In addition, in order to obtain credit, women must present collateral, which is nearly impossible given the restrictions that apply to women's rights to ancestral property.70


Maternal and Child Mortality

As of 1991, the life expectancy rate was 52.6 for women and 55.4 for men,71 making Nepal one of only three countries in the world where the life expectancy of women is lower than that of men.72 According to official statistics, maternal mortality rate is 539 per 100,000 live births, but the 1998 Human Development Report states that it stands at 875 per 100,000 live births. Approximately one in ten infants dies before the age of five.73 According to a survey conducted by the Nepali NGO Saathi (Friend), one of every fifty women dies from pregnancy and child-bearing-related illnesses. In addition, "100 babies die every day due to lack of services like natal care, lack of awareness about simple preventable causes, such as having a clean place to give birth and not using a rusty knife to cut the umbilical cord."74

Malnutrition and lack of access to medical facilities have a major impact on the maternal and infant mortality rate. Forty percent of women marry before the age of fourteen, nine percent of whom give birth before reaching the age of sixteen. Almost all births (ninety-two percent) take place in the home. Of home births, nine percent are attended by a trained doctor, nurse or midwife; the majority are attended by a village health worker. Only twenty percent of pregnant women obtain prenatal care.75 It is estimated that eighty percent of Nepalese women are anemic, and over sixty-three percent of three to six-month old infants are malnourished.76 Cultural factors further exacerbate maternal health issues: forty percent of women in Nepal marry before the age of fourteen. Of them, nine percent give birth by the age of fifteen.77

Family Planning

According to a recent study published in International Family Planning Perspectives, the average Nepali woman has 4.6 children, one more child than she wishes to have.78 Although ninety-eight percent of women know of at least one contraceptive method, and ninety percent of women approve of the use of family planning methods, just thirty-five percent of married women report ever having used a contraceptive.79 Of those who use contraceptives, tubal ligation is the most commonly used method (12.9 percent), followed by vasectomy and injectable methods.80


Abortion is a criminal offense, even when a woman's life is at risk.81 Women having an abortion can be imprisoned for one to three years, and after twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy may be charged with infanticide, punishable with up to twenty years' imprisonment.82

The vast majority of women facing criminal charges for abortion are poor women, usually unwed mothers, widows or married women living alone. Approximately two-thirds of incarcerated women have been convicted for undergoing an illegal abortion.83 An estimated twenty percent of women who have illegal abortions are imprisoned.84 Parliament has been considering amendments to the law since 1997, but it has consistently failed to agree on the issue.


Nepal's rugged terrain, dispersed population and lack of infrastructure limit rural women's access to health, education and employment resources. Ninety-three percent of women in the workforce are subsistence farmers. Women perform sixty to seventy percent of the manual labor in agriculture, as men often leave villages for more lucrative work in larger cities.85

Access to Health Services

Rural women in Nepal generally face great health risks. Just twelve percent of rural Nepal has sanitation facilities, compared to fifty-eight percent in the cities. Fifty-three percent of the rural population has access to safe drinking water (compared to eighty-one percent in the cities).86 The gap between fertility and desired fertility is nearly twice as high among rural women as it is among urban women.

According to Women and Politics Worldwide, the government has made some progress in identifying, researching and creating awareness of the multitude of problems facing rural women in the past twenty years. Seeing that the agricultural development programs of the 1970s failed to reach women, the Agricultural Development Bank of Nepal's Small Farmers Development Program began a Women's Development Program in 1981 to specialize in meeting rural women's needs. The government has also established Women's Training Centers in regional capitols. The centers conduct courses on rural development, leadership training, textile making and home management. According to researcher Meena Acharya, women's economic development over the past several years has been small scale, but changes in women's awareness, attitudes and participation in these programs has been significant.87


Women may legally seek divorce, but on narrower grounds than those applicable to men. A woman may divorce her husband if he is impotent, illegally takes a second wife or mistress, or if he deserts, grossly neglects or abuses her. A husband may obtain a divorce if his wife is unfaithful, deserts him or "plots" against him. A husband and wife may divorce by mutual consent.88

The law on property rights advantages men in inheritance and the division of family property. Nepal's property law derives from the Hindi system of beliefs emphasizing the retention of family property within the male ancestral line.89 A woman has equal inheritance rights with her children to her husband's property only if she remains faithful to her husband, even after his death.90 She relinquishes all inheritance rights if she marries another man or is charged with adultery. A woman is only accorded inheritance of her family's property, on an equal basis with her brothers, if she is unmarried and is at least thirty-five years old when the property is divided. If she marries, the property reverts to her brothers or other direct male descendants.91

Nepal's biased divorce and property laws result in severe economic inequalities. If a woman leaves her husband, divorce or partition laws provide for only limited economic support. Because she has been married, she has also forfeited her right to parental property. Faced with economic dependence and the severe social stigma facing women who live alone in Nepal, many women are forced to stay in abusive relationships."92


There is no law against domestic violence. In one study, fifty percent of respondents said that they know someone who was the victim of domestic violence. In another survey, respondents listed the perpetrators of violence in seventy-seven percent of incidents as family members, and fifty-eight percent reported that it is a daily occurrence.93

The practices of dowry, polygamy and caste reinforce patterns of abuse. Because the groom's entire family benefits financially from the payment of dowry, domestic violence related to dowry often involves more than one perpetrator in the groom's family. The practice of polygamy is legal under certain circumstances but is practiced illegally as well. One police official named polygamy as the leading cause of domestic violence in Nepal.94

The caste system has been legally prohibited, but it is still observed. If a woman is from a lower caste, she may be more vulnerable to abuse by her husband and their husband's family.95

Further, Nepal's government and social services provide little support for the victims of violence. In one survey, forty-two percent of respondents said that in their experience medical practitioners were uncooperative or negligent in cases of violence against women and girls.96 Little media attention is given to violence against women in the home. According to one recent report, perpetrators of domestic violence are generally not prosecuted in the criminal justice system. According to the Muluki Ain, the state is not required to prosecute the crime of assault-it is usually left to private prosecution. As women often lack the economic resources to obtain private legal counsel, private prosecution is rarely an option.

Civil law provides abused women with a partition of the husband's property, but delays in the legal system "effectively deny women their right to partition."97 Divorce is extremely rare, and accords little, if any, financial stability.

The government is implementing several initiatives within the police system to address domestic violence. There has been a growing initiative to train new and existing police, as well as to recruit more women to the police force, to improve police response to domestic violence.98

Conviction on a rape charge is punishable by a prison sentence of three to five years, and rape of a prostitute results in a one-year prison sentence and a fine. Marital rape is not considered a crime. 99


Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: Nepal. 10/02/99. CERD/C304/Add.61.

Concluding Recommendations:

  • Provide fuller information about the demographic composition of the population and about measures taken to eliminate the practice of the caste system.
  • Provide information on the results of affirmative action initiatives directed at improving living conditions for less-developed groups.
  • Take measures to ensure training and education of students and social service professionals on the Convention.
  • Fully observe the human rights of refugees and displaced persons from Bhutan.

Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Nepal. 07/06/96.CRC/C/15/Add.57. (initial report).

Concluding Observations/Comments:

  • Undertake adequate legal reform to ensure full conformity of its legislation with all the provisions of the Convention.
  • Launch a comprehensive and integrated public information campaign to promote children's rights within society, and particularly in the family, to help combat discriminatory attitudes toward girls. Provide training on the Convention to professional groups working with and for children.
  • Make a greater effort to distribute information on the principles of the Convention to adults and children
  • Strengthen coordination between the different governmental mechanisms involved in children's rights, at both central and local levels, and involve non-governmental organizations in the process
  • Gather all necessary information on the situation of children as relates to the Convention, including those in the most vulnerable groups. Establish a multi-disciplinary monitoring system to assess progress and difficulties in the realization of rights.
  • Allocate economic resources to implement economic, social and cultural rights in the light of the principles of non-discrimination. Make effort to reduce the negative impact of foreign debt and debt servicing on children.
  • Take further steps to ensure that all children are registered at birth and thereby recognized as a person and enjoys full rights.
  • Take appropriate measures to combat any form of ill-treatment and sexual abuse of children, including within the family.
  • Take all necessary measures to reduce the drop-out rate of girls in rural and urban areas and to prevent their involvement in child labor or prostitution, and to reinforce access to basic services.
  • Enforce child labor laws.
  • Take legislative and administrative steps to prevent intercountry trafficking and sale of children.

Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Nepal. 10/11/94. CCPR/C/79/Add.42.(Initial Report)

Concluding Observations/Comments:

  • Fully incorporate the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights into Nepal's existing legislation.
  • Adopt necessary administrative and educational measures designed to eliminate traditional practices and customs detrimental to the well-being and status of women and vulnerable groups of Nepalese society.
  • Gather information and take educational measures to eradicate the trafficking of women, debt bondage and child labor; accelerate prison reforms.
  • Adopt measures to ensure the separation of executive and judicial functions and the proper independent functioning of the judiciary.
  • Consider developing human rights training courses for law enforcement officials, the judiciary, police and security forces.


1 IWRAW Correspondence with Dr. Chandra Bhadra, 17 May 1999. back

2 Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, Part 5. 27. back

3 Dhruba Adhikary, "Delhi and Ideology at Core of Elections," South China Morning Post, 6 April 1999, Nexis, 8 April 1999. back

4 "2,224 Candidates to Contest May Election in Nepal," Xinhua News Agency, 30 March 1999, Nexis, 6 April 1999. back

5 "Nepali Congress Party vows stable government," Kyodo News Service, 20 March 1999, Nexis, 7 April 1999. back

6 "Nepal: Four Parties Allege 'Widespread' Poll Rigging," BBC Monitoring South Asia (original source: Kathmandu Post), 10 May 1999, Nexis, 10 May 1999. back

7 Shyam Bahadur, "Maoists 'People's War' in West Nepal Could be Drawn-out Affair," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12 July 1996, Nexis, 29 March 1999. back

8 Amnesty International, Nepal: Human Rights at a Turning Point?, available at http://www.amnesty.org, accessed 21 March 1999. back

9 Kedar Man Sing, "Six Premiers Among Record 2,224 Candidates for Nepal Election," Agence France Presse, 31 March 1999, Nexis, 4 April 1999. back

10 Kedar Man Singh, "Nepal Maoists Call Strike to Discourage Voters," Agence France Presse, 4 April 1999, Nexis, 7 April 1999. back

11 Amnesty International, Nepal: Human Rights at a Turning Point? , available at http://www.amnesty.org, accessed 21 March 1999. back

12 Kedar Man Sing, "Nepal Maoists Call Strike to Discourage Voters," Agence France Presse, 4 April 1999, Nexis, 4 April 1999. back

13 Amnesty International, Nepal: Human Rights at a Turning Point?" back

14 Rita Manchanda, "Nepal: Women Caught Between Ultra-Left and Police Terror," Inter Press Service, 2 July 1998, Nexis, 3 April 1999. back

15 Amnesty International, Nepal: Human Rights at a Turning Point?" back

16 Financial Times Asia Intelligence Wire, World of Information-Nepal Country Profile, Nexis, 2 March 1999. back

17 Geeta Ramaseshan, "Women Imprisoned for Abortion in Nepal-Report of a Forum Asia Fact Finding Mission," Reproductive Health Matters, November 1997, Nexis, 22 March 1999. back

18 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Nepal, September 1998, available at: http://www.mnadvocates.org, accessed 29 March 1999. back

19 R. Ravichandran, "Nepal Wants More Foreign Investments," Financial Times Asia Intelligence Wire (Source: Bernama the Malaysian National News Agency), 15 January 1999, Nexis, 25 March 1999. back

20 Amnesty International, "Nepal: Human Rights at a Turning Point?" back

21 "Activists Demand Human Rights Panel," Ethnic News Watch, 28 August 1998, Nexis, 29 March 1999. back

22 Human Rights Watch, Rape For Profit: Trafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India's Brothels, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995), 2. back

23 "Chronological Developments of Bhutanese Refugee Problem," International Solidarity, GRINSO Nepal, vol. 9 No. 4, September-December 1998, 15. back

24 US Department of State, Nepal Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998. back

25 Ramyata Limbu, "Tibet's Refugees Come In From the Cold," Scotland on Sunday, 14 February 1999, on-line, Nexis, 3 April 1999. back

26 US Department of State, Nepal Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998. back

27 The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, Part 3, 13.1. back

28 Ibid, Part 3, 13.2. back

29 "Police Raid Two Weekly Newspaper Offices, Arrest 13," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 6 January 1999, Nexis, 29 March 1999. back

30 Committee to Protect Journalists, 1998 Country Report: Nepal, available at: http://www.cpj.org, accessed 1 April 1999. back

31 Ibid. back

32 Suman Pradhan, "Nepal: Human Rights: Long on Pledges, Short on Action," Inter Press Service, 9 November 1998, Nexis, 18 May 1999. back

33 The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, Part 3, 11. back

34 Ibid, Part 3, 11. back

35 IWRAW Correspondence with Sapana Pradhan Malla, 17 May 1999. back

36 IWRAW Correspondence with Sapana Pradhan Malla, 17 May 1999. back

37 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Nepal, September 1998. back

38 Ibid. back

39 Shanta Laxmi Shreestha, "Gender Sensitive Planning," What, Why and How in Nepal," Women Magazine, June 1997, on-line, Nexis, 12 April 1999. back

40 Ibid. back

41 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Nepal, September 1998. back

42 Ibid. back

43 Ibid. back

44 Ibid. back

45 David Holmstrom, "One Woman's Efforts to Stop the Trade in girls for Brothels," Christian Science Monitor, 14 April 1999, on-line, Nexis, 15 April 1999. back

46 Ibid. back

47 Human Rights Watch, Rape For Profit: Trafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India's Brothels, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995), 6. back

48 Ibid, 7. back

49 Ganga Gurung, "Nepalis Start to 'Make Noise' About Sex Trafficking," Inter Press Service, 25 August 1998, Nexis, 31 March 1999. back

50 Human Rights Watch, Rape For Profit: Trafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India's Brothels, 7. back

51 Ganga Gurung, "Nepalis Start to 'Make Noise' About Sex Trafficking," Inter Press Service, 25 August 1998, Nexis, 31 March 1999. back

52 David Holmstrom, "One Woman's Efforts to Stop the Trade in girls for Brothels," Christian Science Monitor, 14 April 1999, on-line, Nexis, 15 April 1999. back

53 The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, Part 3, 20.. back

54 Human Rights Watch, Rape For Profit: Trafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India's Brothels, 79. back

55 Ibid, 55. back

56 Ibid, 52. back

57 Ibid, 79. back

58 Ibid, 2. back

59 Meena Acharya, "Political Participation of Women in Nepal," taken from Women and Politics Worldwide, ed. Barbara J. Nelson and Najma Chowdhury (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 478. back

60 Wider Gender Gap In Political Power Found," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 13 February 1997, Nexis, 22 April 1999. back

61 US Department of State, Nepal Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998. back

62 Sapana Pradhan Malla, Political Parties and Party Manifesto, 4 February 1999. back

63 Suman Pradhan, "Politics-Nepal: More Women Politicians in the Fray in May Polls," Inter Press Service, 25 February 1999, on-line, Nexis, 29 April 1999. back

64 Sapana Pradhan Malla, Political Parties and Party Manifesto, 4 February 1999. back

65 IWRAW Correspondence with Sapana Pradhan Malla, 17 May 1999. back

66 Suman Pradhan, "Education-Nepal: Primary School System Flounders Despite Money," Inter Press Service, 3 August 1998, on-line, Nexis, 22 April 1999. back

67 IWRAW correspondence with Dr. Chandra Bhadra, 17 May 1999. back

68 Meena Acharya, "Political Participation of Women in Nepal," taken from Women and Politics Worldwide, ed. Barbara J. Nelson and Najma Chowdhury (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), p. 478. back

69 US Department of State, Nepal Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998. back

70 Meena Acharya, "Political Participation of Women in Nepal," 487. back

71 Pashupati Shumshere, J.B. Rana, Dwarika Nath Dhungel and Janak Raj Joshi, Contemporary Nepal (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1998), 226. back

72 Shanta Laxmi Shreestha, "Gender Sensitive Planning," What, Why and How in Nepal," Women Magazine, June 1997, Nexis,12 April 1999. back

73 1998 Nepal Human Development Report. back

74 Ajit Jain, "Acts Against Women Said to be Widespread in Nepal," Ethnic News Watch, 27 March 1998, Nexis, 3 April 1999. back

75 "Women's Health in Nepal," Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network, July 1997, Nexis, 29 April 1999. back

76 Ibid. back

77 I Olenick, "Levels of Unwanted Childbearing are High in Nepal, Where Only One in Three Women Use Contraceptives," International Family Planning Perspectives, June 1998, on-line, Nexis, 29 April 1999. back

78 Ibid. back

79 However, this is a vast improvement compared to twenty years ago, when just three percent of women reported using contraceptives. back

80 I Olenick, "Levels of Unwanted Childbearing are High in Nepal, Where Only One in Three Women Use Contraceptives." back

81 National Civil Code of the Kingdom of Nepal, section 28. back

82 Geeta Ramaseshan, "Women Imprisoned for Abortion in Nepal-Report of a Forum Asia Fact Finding Mission," Reproductive Health Matters, November 1997, on-line, Nexis, 22 March 1999. back

83 Anika Rahman, Laura Katzive and Stanley Henshaw, "A Global Review of Law on Induced Abortion," International Family Planning Perspectives, v2 n2, 1998, available at http://jake.prod.oclc.org, accessed 11 March 1999. back

84 IWRAW Correspondence with Sapana Pradhan Malla, 17 May 1999. back

85 David Holmstrom, "One Woman's Efforts to Stop the Trade in girls for Brothels," Christian Science Monitor, 14 April 1999, Nexis, 15 April 1999. back

86 "Women's Health in Nepal," Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network, July 1997, Nexis, 29 April 1999. back

87 Meena Acharya, "Political Participation of Women in Nepal," Women and Politics Worldwide, ed. Barbara J. Nelson and Najma Chowdhury (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 488. back

88 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Nepal, September 1998. back

89 Meena Acharya, "Political Participation of Women in Nepal,", 480. back

90 Shanta Laxmi Shreestha, "Gender Sensitive Planning," What, Why and How in Nepal," Women Magazine, June 1997, Nexis, 12 April 1999. back

91 Ibid. back

92 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Nepal, September 1998. back

93 US Department of State, Nepal Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998. back

94 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Nepal. back

95 Ibid. back

96 US Department of State, Nepal Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998. back

97 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Nepal. back

98 Ibid. back

99 IWRAW correspondence with Sapana Pradhan Malla, 17 May 1999. back




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