Nepal has a traumatic experience of a decade-long ‘civil war’. The violence that we witness today in Nepal has its roots in that war. Nepalis are facing physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, spiritual and cultural violence on everyday basis. We pay more attention to physical violence—murder, bombing and shooting—and little to other types of violence. But the latter are as harmful and have dire social consequences.
Violence has become so rampant that it sometimes feels like people have developed a passion for it. Though some forms of cultural and spiritual violence have dropped significantly because of political and social awareness, other types of violence are increasing.
Women and children are victims of domestic violence. Children are exploited physically, emotionally and sexually. The situation of women is even worse because they are taken as ‘weak’ and ‘incomplete’ beings in a patriarchal society. In some places, they are beaten or burned to death by bridegroom’s family if she fails to bring enough dowries.
Around a month ago, two cases of rape were reported in Siraha district. In the first, a woman was raped and stoned to death. In the second, a teenage girl was gang-raped when she was out of her home to respond to nature’s call at night.
Such cases are cropping up every week. But a number of such cases go unreported because of fear of losing ‘social prestige’.
Thousands of women and girls are forced into prostitution in India and other countries every year. Some women are fed human feces and even stoned to death on the charge of practicing ‘witchcraft’.
A couple of months ago, a businessman was kidnapped for ransom in Dang. Even though his family was ready to pay the ransom, he was brutally killed. The dead body was recovered about a month later. Some time ago, police reported that a teenage girl was stabbed in a girls’ gang fight in Kathmandu.
Clashes among the political cadres in the recently concluded local elections led to injuries and even deaths. Political demonstrations or riots in Nepal get so violent that protestors start smashing public properties and attacking and injuring people and security forces. People have become intolerant to differing views; they are ready to clash with, beat and even kill those who hold different views. This indicates that there is a risk a religious, cultural or ethnic violence in the days ahead.
So why are people becoming so prone to violence in Nepal?
Jim Douglas Morrison, the famous American singer, once said “violence isn’t always evil. What’s evil is the infatuation with violence.” It seems we have fallen for this infatuation.
Years of exposure to violence have made Nepali people used to it and tolerate it without any complaint. Then they themselves turn violent. This is a dangerous trend, and could, eventually, lead to chaos and a state of terror.
State alone won’t be able to control violence unless state efforts are supported by civilians. But if civilians themselves are infatuated to violence, violence could become institutionalized. This is why people should not tolerate violence. They should defy it with peaceful means. Revenge only breeds endless chain of violence.
If our children are brought up in a society where violence is common, they could get used to it and take it as normal. Then it will be nearly impossible to eradicate violence from the society.
We need to get to the root cause of violence. First, we always fought and taught others to fight for rights but failed to teach our children about their responsibilities. Second, poverty and unemployment give rise to violence. They motivate people to commit crimes to earn their livelihood. Third, lack of moral education, at home and at school, is also problematic. We thus need to include peace education in school curriculum in order to produce peace-loving citizens.
Peace is a precondition for a harmonious society. Violence slowly weakens social unity. When chaos and disorder become the norm, social harmony breaks down. This leads to lawlessness, the rule of might and corruption.
It is the responsibility of every Nepali citizen to speak up against all forms of violence and help create a harmonious society. Charlotte Bunch, the noted American author and feminist, says: “Sexual, racial, gender violence and other forms of discrimination and violence in a culture cannot be eliminated without changing culture.” We have to change our mindset. We have to teach our children that violence is wrong.
Infatuation with violence is suicidal. Rather we should all commit to promoting peace, harmony and brotherhood. We should be aware of our responsibility along with our rights. Let’s instill ethics and moral values in our hearts. Let us live and let others also live happy, healthy and prosperous lives.
The author is a student of Information Technology in Toronto, Canada