UPDATE: Nepal: In memory of WHRD Laxmi Bohara

The National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRDs) organized a small ceremony on 7 June in Maitighar Mandala to commemorate Laxmi Bohara, Women Human Rights Defender, Kanchanpur who was murdered on the same date by her husband.
This gathering was attended by more than 50 Women Human Rights Defenders representing various movement and networks such as disability, sexual minorities, land rights, squatter communities, rural women and also organizations active in creating support mechanisms for Women Human Rights Defenders such as Protection Desk Nepal.
Update on: http://www.wluml.org/english/actionsfulltxt.shtml?cmd[156]=i-156-561917

Bina Bajracharya of Mahila Ekata Samaj shared that it has been a year since Laxmi Bohara was murdered on 7 June 2008 by her husband and mother in law who objected the human rights work that she had been engaged in fighting for women's rights, raising questions on human rights violations etc. After her suspicious murder, the state structure such as district administrative office, district police office and government hospital were neither accountable nor responsible towards this issue.

It was then the movement of the Women Human Rights Defenders who organized a huge protest against the insensitive state structures for 24 long days of relay hunger strike, protests, rallies, sit in protest that forced the state structures to finally detach from their rigid decisions and show their support to the Women Human Rights Defenders. It was then the a High Level Task Force was formed in the Office of the Prime Minister that has the mandate to roles and responsibilities of the Task Force will include impartial thorough investigation of Violence Against Women, Reviewing and Analyzing the gaps and lacunas in the legal provisions with thorough recommendations on scrapping of such provisions and incorporating those mechanisms that defends and promotes the rights of women.

The Committee will also develop a Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Formation of a High level Commission that deals with All forms of Violence Against Women. consisted of 9 members include 3 from the women's movement. This is amongst few cases where women are able to use legal mechanisms to access justice for women. Therefore in this context it becomes imperative to all women groups to come together and plan activities collectively. Without proper strategy and collective action, environment to ensure rights of women will be impossible.

As of now, the husband of Laxmi Bohara has been released on bail while the district court is engaged in collecting information from the witnesses. The investigation report of the Nepal Police has shown that Laxmi Bohara committed suicide by taking poison however another medical report has stated that she died of excessive beating and battering and it is not an unknown fact she had been a victim of Domestic Violence for many years. Also it has been shared by the Women Human Rights Defenders in Kanchanpur district that they still face threats from the perpetrators from time to time regarding the respective case.

Rama Dhakal of Nepal Disabled Women's Association also shared in the current political situation, it will be very difficult for the Women Human Rights Defenders to work in the districts. The suspicious murder of Uma Singh, Nirmala Thapa, threats and intimidations to Kokila Dhakal and Manica Jha are few examples where if the Woman Human Rights Defenders challenges and advocates for the right of women, she is further subjected to multiple forms of violence leading from threats, harassment, mental torture to murder. The underlying truth is that when Women Human Rights Defenders advocate for the rights of the women, they are challenging the societal norms, values that are tangled in a web of patriarchy that causes structural violence. The system still remains the same.

The state mechanisms are still weak in recognizing the issues of women as a priority and there is a need to lobby the High Level Task Force on the dissemination of their report and the plans of the government to address the recommendations of the report. She ended that the National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders has planned to organize an interaction programme with the High Level Task Force members in a week time to get updates on the cases of Women Human Rights Defenders and their mandate in accomplishing the demand as put forward by the women's movement. She also thanked all our friends and networks who have been supporting this movement ever since the 24 days movement and irrespective of our issues and networks, we must stand united.

The half an hour small gathering concluded with all women activists lighting candle and one minute silence for defenders such such as Laxmi Bohara and other Women Human Rights Defenders who stand in the frontline advocating for women's rights and forced to give up their lives.

8 Jun 2009