Nepali Times, Durbar Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal ( http://www.nepalnews.com.np/ntimes ) http://www.nepalnews.com.np/ntimes/issue143/nepali_society.htm
March 27, 2000
‘Married’ Nepal Lesbian Couple Reported to Police by Own families
Maya Tamang, 18, and Indira Rai, 17–9th-grade classmates in high school who had vowed their love for and intention to live with one another—were handed over by their own relatives to police authorities of the Pathari Village Development Committee (VDC). Unable to convince them to separate, Prem Tamang, a male relative and guardian of Maya, forcibly took them from Indira’s elder sister’s home in Pathari, while a crowd of relatives and neighbors derided their behavior as shameful to their culture and religion. At the station, the two reportedly made a statement to their guardians and the police officials that they "were happy with one another" and "will live together." It continued: "We will not marry with boys in the future, too. No one will separate us, and no one will stop us from loving each other."
The Police Sub-Inspector at Pathari VDC, Basudev Bhattarai, told an investigator from Community Promote that he did not formally arrest the women or charge them with any crime. Nonetheless, at the request of Prem Tamang and Indira’s elder sister, Bhattarai detained them at the police station, reportedly saying, "This kind of activity spreads a bad impression in society, so we wish to stop such activity in society," and further arguing that no provision in Nepalese law permits same-sex marriage. While in custody, the two women were reportedly subjected to rude and insulting comments about their relationship by police staff. Two days later, the Sub-Inspector allowed their release—only after the two signed a statement agreeing to separate.
At present the two young women—one of whom reportedly dresses in boys’ clothes and wears her hair short, rare behavior among women in Nepal—now live separately under the custody of these relatives. As news of their relationship spreads locally and throughout the country, the two women have separately emerged as targets of a potentially violent backlash from neighbors and other local people. Community Promote fears for their safety, as several neighbors, aware that the women wish to live together in the future, have said in investigative interviews: "They are garbage in our society, and we must clear them."
IGLHRC and Community Promote protest the arbitrary detention of the two young women by the Police at Pathari VDC. IGLHRC and Community Promote call on authorities in Nepal immediately extend police protection to guarantee the women’s safety. Such protection should respect their freedom of movement, rather than constituting a further incarceration or detention. The women should be permitted to correspond and to meet when they so desire.
The actions of the police constitute a breach of Nepal’s obligations as a state signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR recognize that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to protection from discrimination on any ground including race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status; the United Nations Human Rights Committee has held this definition to include sexual orientation as a status protected from discrimination. The arbitrary detention of the two women—unsupported by any allegation of criminal conduct—stands in gross violation of Article 9 of the ICCPR, ensuring the right to liberty and security of person. In forcing the women to disavow their relationship and to separate, police also imposed unacceptable restrictions on their rights to liberty of movement (Article 12, ICCPR), freedom of expression (Article 19, ICCPR), and freedom of association (Article 21,ICCPR).
CEDAW calls, in its Article 16, for states "to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to family and marriage," and in particular to ensure "the same right freely to choose a spouse and to entire into marriage only with their free and full consent." Nor are states permitted to support arbitrary exercise of parental authority by their own extralegal action—whether the appeal for such support comes from parents proper or (as in this case) from other guardians. An 18-year old is understood to have attained majority in international law, in particular by the first Article of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Nepal is signatory; many legal systems would grant majority to a 17 year-old as well.
Yet the CRC also protects children, equally with adults, against discrimination (Article 2) and against arbitrary detention (Article 37); it protects the child’s rights to freedom of expression (Article 13) and of association (Article 15). And the actions of both relatives and police in this case violate Principle 10 of the 1959 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child, which states, "The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination . . . [and] shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood."
International human rights instruments place obligations on states not only to respect human rights—that is, to not violate them—but also to protect them. Tasked with enforcing the law and preserving the peace, the police have a duty to protect all persons in the county. Signatory States to the human rights treaties commit themselves to guarantee the right of all persons to equal protection of the law, "without discrimination." Since the two girls stand as targets of mounting discrimination, hatred, and potential violence, the situation demands immediate and unconditional police protection.
April 28, 2003
Increasing police abuse brings gay rights issue to the fore
By Ameet Dhakal
That tragic event on a fateful evening three years ago separated Saran (name changed), 18, from his family – perhaps forever. He, along with his friends, had just stepped out of a disco in Sundhara, when a police van came and in matter of minutes, they were in a police lock-up – abused and brutalised.
They were cruelly beaten up and forced to walk around just in a single undergarment. Their only crime: they were MSMs (Man having Sex with Man, to use a terminology of their choice instead of more commonly used term, gays).
" Never in my life have I been beaten so much," he said.
But worse was yet to come. Saran was forced to wear make up as a meta (a person who assumes female role in a man-to-man sexual act), journalists were called in and his pictures taken. The next day, a vernacular daily ran a story, along with his picture in a meta make up. " My parents were shocked and furious when they saw my picture in the newspaper and came to know that I was an MSM."
The 15-year old boy, waiting to join college after SLC, was immediately disowned by his family members. Without financial and moral support, he found himself on the streets, totally devastated.
Three months ago, Bimal (name changed), 24, and his friends were returning home after performing a cultural show at a programme organized by Blue Diamond, an NGO working for rights and protection of MSMs. Straight from the theatre, Bimal, who had performed as a female dancer, was still in a female costume. Then a group of policemen rounded them up in Lazimpat and brutally abused them at the police station. "They humiliated us for being MSMs and even penetrated sticks through our anus," Bimal said recounting that painful night.
At the end of the brutal act, came the police demand: leave your jewelry and money and never reclaim that, otherwise, we will inform your parents about your "illicit sexual behavior."
A clear blackmail.
Bimal complied and gave them his one-and-half tola (about 15 grams) gold chain and all the money he had.
Police atrocity against MSMs surfaced once again last week when policemen in uniform confronted a group of MSMs, and abused them.
These are perhaps only a few of the stories that have come out; there are hundreds of other untold, heart-rendering tales of brutality by police and thugs against MSMs, said Sunil Pant Executive Director of Blue Diamond. He also blamed that policemen have co-opted thugs, and even the thugs disguise themselves as policemen and go to blackmail MSMs, sometimes in their apartments. These thugs take whatever they like, including TV sets, and threaten the MSMs that they would expose their"illicit sexual behavior," should they inform the police.
The series of abuses against MSMs raise two fundamental questions: Whether people have the right to leave with basic dignity irrespective of their sexual orientation? And whether it is state’s responsibility to protect the vulnerable groups, such as MSMs?
So far as the first question is concerned, things get complicated when people start to see homosexuality through religious and cultural prisms and interpret it as "a wrong choice".
At the heart of the homosexuality debate-not only in traditional country like Nepal but also in the so called developed countries-lies the question: what makes a person homosexual, is it a choice or one is born that way?
The choice vs biology debate in itself is a very complicated one. Some argue that being a homosexual is as natural as being a left-handed; thus homosexuality is something "chosen" by nature, as opposed to a lifestyle chosen by some "deviants." The contestants of this theory-often the religious and cultural rightists-point to the fact that it is yet to be vindicated by genetic testing.
Whatever the case- whether the "gay gene" exists or not-there are a number of evidences in Nepali society that support the existence of homosexuality here for long. The same-sex partners carved in wooden arts of in temples, and the presence of active vocabularies like chhipri, singaru, maiphu, kota and koti in different languages spoken in Nepal that refer to homosexuals also vindicates the fact that Nepali society hasn’t been homosexuality-free; nor is the concept an alien one.
While the religious and cultural rightists in Nepal might continue to loathe homosexuals, the burgeoning civil society and high-ranking officials in Nepal Police, surprisingly, seem to have accepted that the homosexuals have the right to live with dignity and state has the responsibility to protect them.
In a small room, packed with about three dozen MSMs, in Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), on Sunday, Govinda Bahadur Thapa, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP), listened emphatically for two hours as the victims recounted their heart-rendering narratives of police brutality.
Thapa asked for all minute details-where the assault took place, time, number of policemen involved in the assaults and their names, while his junior officials noted down the stories. The fact that AIGP Thapa had come to listen to their problem along with his five senior colleagues-a Deputy Inspector General of Police, two Senior Superintendents of Police, a Superintendent of Police, and a Deputy Superintendent of Police-and that too, on the eve of Nepal Bandh, was itself a vindication that he wanted to take up the issue seriously.
" MSMs have the right to live with dignity, and police headquarter is committed to ensure that," said Thapa, promising another round of meeting within two weeks whereby " we can evaluate the progress." He also promised a face-to-face meeting with the policemen in the fields in Kathmandu and the MSMs.
" It is a great beginning," said Sapana Malla, Coordinator of FWLD referring to the MSM-Police interaction, but reminded that a long legal and social battle for " right to equality and freedom" lay ahead.
While Saran, who now works as an outreach educator in Blue Diamond and offers counselling to about 10 new MSMs every month, was visibly happy: " New MSMs now may not have to go through the ordeal that I went through."
May 3, 2003
Police Brawl with Gays in Katmandu
On April 22, 2003, police approached a group of nine men in drag who were returning home after a disco party. Calling them pejorative names such as "hijras" (referring to transgender people and people with intersex conditions, mostly men who undergo castration), "bastards", and "chakas" (a derogatory Nepali word for homosexuals), the police demanded that they go to the police station.
When some of the men asked if they had broken any laws, the police allegedly attacked the group, beating them with batons, gun butts, whipping them with belts, and kicking them for several minutes. Seven of the men were taken into custody, where they suffered further physical and verbal abuse. Two men in the group managed to escape and informed Blue Diamond Society, a local support organization for MSM (men who have sex with men). The director of the organization helped to secure their release from custody four hours later, taking them to nearby Bir Hospital.
Blue Diamond Society places this recent incident within an ongoing pattern of police abuse–including acts of arbitrary arrest and detention, physical violence, verbal abuse, intimidation, extortion, and rape–against homosexuals in Nepal.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) asks GLBT around the world to join Blue Diamond Society and IGLHRC in denouncing police violence against homosexuals.
Please send urgent email messages, faxes, or letters of protest to the following addresses below. Call for an immediate and impartial investigation into this incident of police brutality. Denounce patterns of police violence against homosexuals in Kathmandu, and call for an immediate end to these practices. Demand sensitivity training for police regarding issues of sexual orientation and expression and gender identity and expression.
Rt. Hon. Nayan Bahadur Khatri
National Human Rights Commission of Nepal
Harihar Bhavan, Pulchwok
Lalitpur, G.P.O. Box 9182
Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Inspector General of Police
G.P.O. Box 407
Naxal, Kathmandu, Nepal
Fax: + 977-1-441-5594
Amnesty International Nepal
P. O. Box 135, Bagbazar
Please send copies of letters to:
Sunil Pant, Executive Director
Blue Diamond Society
GPO Box 8975, EPC No: 5119
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Coming Out in Nepal
When he set up the Blue Diamond Society, Sunil Babu Pant thought gays were rare in Nepal, and that they would be as rare as the blue gems. Two years later he has discovered they are as common as left-handed people.
Since 2001, almost 10,000 Nepalis have contacted Blue Diamond in Kathmandu alone, and through its network an even greater number have come out of the closet in other towns. "We realised we could not afford to wait for others to speak for us. If we were to end the continuous marginalisation that we faced, we had to be prepared to struggle for our own rights and concerns," says Pant.
Their efforts are already paying off – the national strategy against HIV/AIDS recently recognised men havng sex with men (MSM) as a vulnerable group in Nepal. And only last week senior police officers pledged to sensitise the police force about the issue. It’s a promise the Blue Diamond Society hopes will end police brutality and exploitation of the Nepali gay community. [To little avail: see previous News Report #2]
Sunil is a computer professional who trained in the former Soviet Union, and worked in Japan and Hong Kong. After returning home to Gorkha he resigned from his technical job and turned to social service. He worked with destitute women, but it was when he moved to Kathmandu and came in touch with the underground gay community that his idea for an organisation for homosexuals was born. The Blue Diamond Society has had to struggle against taboos and mores.
The first attempt at registering the society was denied because the officials objected to the very concept of homosexuality. Pant was pressurised to change the organisation’s objective into "correcting homosexual behaviour" but finally found a loophole that allowed him to work in the area of male health. That was the easy part. He was then faced with the challenge of coaxing MSMs to join the society because they were afraid of being targetted by homophobes.
The society estimates that about 95 percent of MSMs are forced into heterosexual marriages by their families who don’t want scandals. The homosexuals suffer from depression, low self-esteem and social ostracisation. "We are forced to lead a split life – different on the inside from what we show on the outside," he says. Pant’s own family and friends have been "incredibly" supportive of his work, but he knows this is rare. The society slowly gained their trust over the years.
This Friday they are holding a fashion show and beauty pageant. Participants are ‘metas’ and ‘tas’ (those who assume female roles and their male partners) who are intent on carving out a social space for themselves.
Pant’s other concern is the plight of women who are attracted to members of their own sex. He wonders, "If Nepali men who enjoy greater freedom, decision making and mobility are tormented so much for their sexual preferences, how much more horrendous the situation must be for women!"
June 20, 2003
Need for sexual minorities to find their voices
It’s been a tough battle for male homosexuals to gain acceptance. But they are beginning to come out in the open.
The first drag pageant held here recently and the formation of a society for male homosexuals, commonly known as gays, are positive steps towards social tolerance of sexual minorities. However, while the gays are beginning to be acknowledged – although they still have a far way to go – homosexual women or lesbians still face ostracism. Ironically, experts point to the lower social status of women in our society as being the reason behind the reluctance of lesbians to come out in public.
" It is easier for gay communities to organise themselves in groups than lesbians," said Manjushree Thapa, litterateur. She added that because of a lower economic and social status compared to men, lesbians have been unable to bring their voices out into the open. According to Thapa, studies show that nearly 10 per cent of people are homosexual. However, the sexual minorities, which include gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transvestites are still largely discriminated by society. Thapa was speaking at an orientation programme, "Homosexuality in Nepal", held at Martin Chautari today on sensitisation of issues of homosexuality.
" Female to female issues needs to be brought forward," said Sunil Pant, president of Blue Diamond Society (BDS). BDS was established in 2001 as an organisation to represent sexual minorities and focuses on gays. BDS is in contact with more than 12,000 gays in Kathmandu and other areas in Nepal. The society, through its outreach programmes, is in contact with 10 to 12 lesbians each day in its 18 sites in Kathmandu.
" Due to the lack of funding and resources we haven’t been able to reach to everyone," said Pant. "There are many women who are still uncomfortable with saying they are lesbians and it is necessary to bring their voices out." Pant says that another reason for lesbians lagging behind in self-recognition is the restriction on freedom of movement to women. "Men can attend meetings, and give their time while it is hard for women," said Pant.
But, this is slowly changing. " Homosexual women are now thinking of opening a society of their own," said Pant. It is perhaps, the progress of gays in the past few months, that have encouraged lesbians to follow suit for social acceptance.
Pant adds that soon a society for lesbians, like BDS, will be established. " Women need to come into the open for protection of public health," said writer Thapa. The spreading of sexually-transmitted diseases like AIDS amongst homosexuals has made this even more important, she adds. " Since, homosexuals have sexual relationships with their partners in secret, often without protection, they need to be educated on safe sex," said Sapana Pradhan Malla, renowned advocate.
Moreover, the law does not recognise homosexuals. "They need to be able to live without having to bear sexual, physical and emotional abuse," added Malla. For instance, if a homosexual is harassed or abused, they are unable to take the support of law against the guilty. Furthermore, according to law, sexual relationship with the same sex is termed as ‘unnatural’. " The basic need of a human is the right to live, but the law fails to provide this to homosexuals," added Malla.
04 December 2003
Another Brutality against Homosexual in Nepal
I am writing this to inform you of another brutal incident against homosexual from the Public and Business in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Sunmaya and Ning Metis (feminised male) in cross dress decided to go to a Discoma, 2 called "Dynastyî, Durbar Marg, Kathmandu, Near Royal Palace, in the night on 14th November 2003 around 7pm. They were refused to inter the Disco despite they had bought the tickets. The bouncers at the Dynasty disco told them ìBoth of you, Hijaras, are not allowed anymore to this Discosî. But Sunmaya said they both had tickets bought and they had the right to get in.
After that the bouncers were became more derogative and started pushing them away. Both Sunmaya and Ningma tried not to leave away. Then 13 of them, the bouncers with their friends, started beating them up by boots and punches.
Ningma could escape after being beaten brutally. But Sunmaya was badly injured and got senseless after the brutal act for about 30 minutes from those 13 men from Dynasty Disco.
After that the Police from Durbar Marg police station were informed about the incident, the police took Sunmaya to the Birhospital, government hospital nearby. Sources said police didnít arrest any of the men from Dynasty, neither tried to investigate further. Few days ago I, Sunil Pant from Blue Diamond Society, tried to find out more about the incidence from the Police in Durbar Marg police station, but the police refused to communicate with me saying they didnít know anything such.
Now these days Metis are not allowed to these following places in Kathmandu. If some Meti tries to inter these places they also faces abuse and discrimination. ÿ Discos: Fire Club and Jump Club in Thamel, Dynasty Club in Durbar Marg ÿ Oriental Restaurant, an 24hours restaurant in Durbar Marg ÿ Nasal Club, A dance restaurant in Putlisadak
December 19. 2003
Discrimination Against Cross Dressers in Katmandu
I am writing this mail to inform you about the abuse, discrimination and degrading behaviours from the discos, nightclubs and restaurants against effeminate cross dressing homosexuals recently in Kathmandu, Nepal.
On the night of 15th Dec 2003, Kasheri and other members of Blue Diamond Society including Mamata, Jalan, Sunita, Ujeli and Bajai (Nick name of cross-dressing homosexuals) were trying to enter to the Dynasty Club after buying tickets. They all were cross- dressed.
The bouncers and local boys stooped them from entering the club saying “Animals like you, Hijaras (derogatory term for homosexual male), Bhalus(derogatory term for female sex workers), because of you police has arrested our friends and taken to Hanuman Dhoka (District police head quarter)”. “So you Hijras!, has no entry onwards” “Get lost from here otherwise you will get kicks and boots from us”. So all of them were chased away from Dynasty club.
It was late night and they decided to go to Oriental Restaurant (an 24 hour opening restaurant in Kings Way in Kathmandu) for snacks. The security and bouncers turned even worse. They said to Kashei and her friends “Hey Hijaras, No Entry for you bitches”.
Then they were not allowed to enter, not a single Discos and Night clubs they tried to get in even with entry tickets including: FAIR Club, Babylon, Disco Club 2000, Nasal club, Jump club. Since then these discos, night clubs and restaurant has not allowed any cross dressing men to enter their premises.
Blue Diamond Society denounces this discriminatory behaviour and demand an immediate end to all such abuses, discrimination and degrading behaviours from the discos, nightclubs and restaurants against cross dressing homosexuals.
INTERNATIONAL LAW Right to freedom from discrimination is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, Articles 1, 2 and 7), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, Articles 2 and 26). It is also guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal and the Civil Liberty Act of 1955. Right to liberty and security of person is protected by the UDHR (Article 3), and by the ICCPR (Articles 6 and 9). Right to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is protected by the UDHR (Article 5), and by the ICCPR (Article 7). The right to compensation in cases of torture is also provided in the Nepal Compensation Against Torture Act, 1997. Right to freedom of expression is protected by the UDHR (Article 19), and by the ICCPR (Article 19).
16 December 2003
They don’t let us live: Lesbians in Nepal
Raadha and Meera, two young women from Hetauda (south east from Kathmandu) are both exhausted and have little hope of life and living together in the way they wish.
Meera’s family has, for the past 2 years, been trying to arrange her marriage to unknown men. She was giving up and in despair and tried poisoning herself last month when she realised there was no way out. Fortunately, she was rescued by being taken to the hospital in time.
Later, both Raadha and Meera decided to escape to Kathmandu and live on their own. They made contact with Blue Diamond Society, which was able to provide assistance so that both had something to earn so that they could live independently both being over the age of consent. But that didn’t last for very long. Meera’s family found them and started again with pressure to marry. Despite her continuous pleas that she didn’t want to get married, that she wanted to stay single, her family finalised marriage arrangements. The family was ready to go for the formal engagement with a man living not far from Kathmandu, last Saturday.
Meera and Raadha again quickly asked Blue Diamond Society for help. Blue Diamond Society with the help from "Forum for Women, Law and Development" helped Meera and Raadha to file an appeal to the police to provide them security and freedom to remain single, not to be married by force and against their will. Yesterday, Meera and Raadha were again at the Blue Diamond Society office – but this time Meera’s family was also there. I couldn’t imagine how abusive, hard and unfair the family could be.
There were accusations against Raadha of being a pimp, trying to sell Meera, doing Tantra-Mantra and turning their daughter into a Hijra. …and on and on. I had to call the police before they became violent. After 8 PM Meera’s family left the Blue Diamond Society threatening to prosecute all of us who have been trying to help Meera. Raadha and Meera are very much threatened, both of them were saying ‘They don’t let us live’. Blue Diamond Society would like call for your support and solidarity to protect the human rights of Meera and Raadha and an immediate protection of Meera and Raadha by the Government and the Police from their family against possible attack and marriage against their will. (Name has been changed to protect their identity)
ILGA-Asia condemns anti-gay repression in Nepal on Human Rights Day
The International Lesbian and Gay Association in Asia (ILGA-Asia) called on the government of Nepal to swiftly address the serious human rights violations committed against gay men there.
Mr. Vivek Anand, ILGA Asia Male Representative, relayed reports from Blue Diamond Society, an activist group in the kingdom and ILGA Asia member, of brutal assaults by Armed Police in the capital city Kathmandu, Nepal on the night of 6th December 2003.
According to the report, carpet factory workers Jag Bahadur Lama, 28 and Mani Lama, 20, both from Hetauda (south eastern district from Kathmandu) were walking near Ratnapark, central Kathmand when street hoodlums called "Gundas" tried to extort money from them.
The gundas then deliberately taunted the couple with gay slurs as an armed police van was passing. The police beat up Mani, then Jag Bahadur as he tried to stop the beatings. The police arrested them and beat them inside the running van with boots and rifle butts for an hour. Jag Bahadur told the police he was born homosexual and that they were members of the Blue Diamond Society.
In response, the police told them they would burn down the Blue Diamond Society office and became more brutal. The two were taken to an unknown barracks-like place where about 15 men came and started beating them severely. They were accused of being Maoists.
After 2 hours of assault, both Jag Bahadur and Mani were asked to perform oral sex on the police. The police then put them back into the van, again tied them up and covered their faces. They were driven around for some time and then were thrown into the street near Nepal’s biggest temple in Ratopul by 2:00 a.m. Another police van came along but after hearing their story they didn’t offer any help, not even some water.
The Blue Diamond Society took them to the hospital on its own expense. Anand condemned the inhumane assault on the men and called on governments to file protests against the authorities. Anand was furious that the incident happened in the week before the global observance of the International Human Rights Day.
The Blue Diamond Society has been documenting the persistent assault and torture against homosexuals in Nepal and condemns the degrading action from the police who supposed to protect the citizens. Sunil Pant, president of the Blue Diamond Society, called for speedy support and solidarity to protect the human rights of homosexuals and an immediate and thorough investigation into the assaults.
" Police officers who are supposed to protect the citizens of the country must not be able to commit such acts with impunity from the law they are here to uphold." Mr. Pant said.
Wina Winata, ILGA Asia female representative, said that human rights organizations all over the world should support the struggle of the Blue Diamond Society against state-sponsored homophobia and discrimination in Nepal. Winata urged lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual organizations to conduct protests against Nepalese state interests in their own countries to fight for human rights in the repressive kingdom.
ILGA is a federation of over 330 groups from about 80 countries fighting for equal human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We also have over 200 supportive associate and individual members.
Vivek Anand, ILGA Asia Male Representative
Wina Winata, ILGA Asia Female Representative
Phone: 62 812 928 7979 – Email Address : firstname.lastname@example.org
ILGA – International Lesbian and Gay Association
Kolenmarkt, 81 * B-1000 Brussels * Belgium
Phone/Fax: +32-(0)2-502-24 71 * E-mail: email@example.com
World Wide Web site: http://www.ilga.org/
November 27-December 03, 2003
The impact of HIV/AIDS on peace and security in Nepal
BY KAMALA SARUP
The massive and rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in Nepal is not just a health issue. It is a significant threat to national peace and security. Maoist war and HIV/AIDS together threaten of economic and social progress in Nepal. Health workers involved in HIV education have complained that due to the Maoist insurgency they are facing problem to spread the message to the remote villages. The Maoists’ war has several indirect consequences, including long-term physical and psychological adverse health effects, displacement of people, damage to the environment, drainage of human, financial, and other resources away from public health.
" The situation in Nepal deserved particular attention because the Maoists war had not allowed the country to set up the necessary conditions required to combat HIV/AIDS. The security conditions have directly affected the spread of HIV/AIDS, and that conflict and civil unrest can increase vulnerability to HIV/AIDS particularly among women and children. Maoists conflict have contributed to massive numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees and the propagation of HIV/AIDS," said Peace Advisor from Philadelphia, Dr. Niruta Singh, while talking to Peoples’ Review.
Dr. Niruta Singh further said that we have to strengthen local and regional capacity in order to be able to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemics. Broad alliances involving governments, voluntary organizations, local communities, workplaces, and schools and the military must be part of this joint effort.
She said we must promote individual responsibility by empowering women and girls to make themselves less vulnerable and by involving men who are turning the tide of the epidemic. The fight against HIV/AIDS is part of peace-building; it is part of our efforts to make a better, more just and safer Nepal for all.
Altogether 182 people have died of AIDS in Nepal as of September 2003. According to statistics at the National AIDS Control Centre, 3,124 persons in the country have tested HIV positive. Of them, 2,262 are males and 862 female. In the same period, 453 males and 20 females contracted AIDS. Thirty-six districts, including Kathmandu, were the worst AIDS-affected areas. Children under the age of five and old people above the age of 50 are also suffering from the disease, the centre stated. There are 24 children under the age of five and 26 persons above 50 suffering from the killer disease. Some 5,000 persons in Dharan are found HIV/AIDS positive, about 40 per cent of them married.
Poverty, gender inequality, low levels of education and literacy, denial, stigma and discrimination are major factors for HIV vulnerability in Nepal. Disease in Nepal was largely being spread by migration and the cross-border trafficking of women. The disease is found not only among sex workers in Nepal but also among housewives and new born babies.
According to UNAIDS, in Nepal, 30 new cases of AIDS infection are detected every day. With the increase in numbers, UNAIDS has declared Nepal as the ‘concentrated epidemic’ region. And it is said that if the number increases at this rate, HIV/AIDS will be the major cause of death by 2010.
Even recently, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP, Nepal Ms. Alessandra Tisot, said "Every day, 14,000 people between 15-24 years and 2,200 under 15 years are infected by HIV in Nepal".
The government has set up AIDS control programme and a high-level National HIV/AIDS Council. In 1995, a National Policy on HIV/AIDS/STDs was adopted by the Ministry of Health, and a multi-sectoral approach involving 12 government ministries was established. There are currently almost 100 NGOs working in the area of HIV/AIDS. A coalition of approximately 40 NGOs, initially established to tackle the problem of girl trafficking, has also undertaken the issue of HIV/AIDS.
There was still lack of co-ordination between NGOs/INGOs and the government. Nepali laws remain discriminative and have not been able to address the rights of the HIV/AIDS infected people properly. Political commitment is lacking and the government is yet to take HIV/AIDS as a national issue.
Even recently, Nepal called upon the international community to provide more funds to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria which hopes to raise a further three billion US dollars, one third each of which will be provided by the US, Europe and the remaining by other nations and agencies. Furthermore, The Global Fund awarded $4.6 million over two years to Nepal to fight against HIV and AIDS. Though the grant was signed in August, the Country Coordination Mechanism (CCM) still fails to come up with any implementation plan.
Investing in health can reduce the risk of conflict as well as mitigating its impact. Investing in the health sector makes good sense for conflict prevention as well as for socio-economic development. Health can help peace also in operational terms. On other hand, media can play a great role in creating awareness among the general public. Education and awareness are the two powerful instruments, which can check the spread of the disease.
In Nepal most vulnerable groups such as sex workers, drug users, migrant populations and others who are made vulnerable by economic and social instability. Political instability, and political crisis have an undeniable impact upon Nepalese public health. Nepalese public health can be effective only in as much as the security of victims or armed conflict is guaranteed. Placing social services high on the political agenda can help maintain social cohesion, national unity and stability. WHO has a clear role in assisting member countries to assess the vulnerability of the health sector and to set priorities for "essential packages", i.e. health service interventions that society decides should be provided to everyone in the specific context of each country’s health system.
· New Year celebration with drag dances
· Comedy show and dramas
· Disco dancing
· Dinner and Drinks
Date: December 31, 2003
Time: 7pm and on!
Location: Blue Diamond Society Office, Shiv Bhkta Marg: 344, Lazimpat, Kathmandu
Free Entrance, Donations welcome!! Proceeds support the first Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Women support group in Nepal!
For more information, contact BDS
www.bds.org.np, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 4443350,4445147