KATHMANDU, Aug 23: With the country increasingly dependent on foreign employment and remittance, the costs include family breakdowns, heartbreaks, domestic violence and abandoned children.
“They often come in a package, if we are to believe the complaints lodged here,” says Mona Ansari, spokesperson at the National Women´s Commission.
Two recent cases brought to the commission are however of a rather different type. It´s about blackmail.
These are cases of women seeking the commission´s help after letting the blackmailers sneak into their private world. After getting near to the women in the guise of more understanding, caring and compatible partners and recording their activities on mobile phones, they started using the recordings against the women.
“Such cases are rising alarmingly as we noticed during extensive field visits in various districts,” said Ansari. “But burdened by a sense of guilt and fear, few women dare to open up about such violence.” Ansari added that the commission is preparing to collect data on cases of blackmail in order to come up with a mechanism to stop such activities.
The women´s commission is also dealing with rising cases of violence meted out to women by their migrant worker husbands simply because of lack of trust and as an immediate and direct effect of talk about ´dishonest wives´, states Saraj Raj Thapa, legal expert at the commission.
“They hear stories of friends in their circle whose wives deceived them. Couples in long distance relationships, although absolutely trusting of each other, are already in a challenging situation and this is all the more so when one hears tales of deception. Hasty generalizations make husbands appear maddeningly suspicious of their wives, causing great harm in the family,” stated Saraj Thapa. “There are cases where innocent women have been severely beaten and pressured for divorce, even affecting the lives of the kids,” he added.
One victim is 35-year-old Srijana Regmi (name changed), originally from Baglung and now a resident of Kalanki. The mother of two was shocked when her husband, who had not phoned or emailed her for about two months, stormed into the house one day, dragged her outside and accused her of involvement with another man. He turned so violent and abusive that neighbors had to call the police.
Soon after the incident the husband left for Quatar and has not come back since. Four years on, the woman and her children live on their own and are pretty sure they have been disowned by the breadwinner.
“We lived so happily for 17 years. He was the nicest person I had ever come across. But it was fate and our heart is broken, and he doesn´t even care about the children.”
Srijana later realized that it was her mother-in-law who had provoked her son, stating that she had developed a relationship with the contractor while their house was under construction. “He believed his mother without thinking twice as he had two friends whose wives had deceived them.”
According to Saru Joshi, South Asia coordinator of UN Women, while women migrants face a challenge just for being women, those staying at home while their husbands work abroad are highly vulnerable also.
“A huge female population is in a dilemma due to foreign employment. Husband and wife having to live separately for years obviously affects family life in town or village,” she said. “We are collecting data on affected women as part of a report on the social costs of foreign employment,” she added.
According to government data, 1.4 million Nepalis are living and working in Qatar, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and other countries besides India.