For women in the darkest of circumstances, The Women’s Foundation Nepal (WFN) offers a beacon of hope. Their mission is to work towards a violence-free society by helping women and children in Nepal who are victims of violence, abuse and poverty.
Their services are vital. It is shocking to learn that 64% of Nepalese women are victims of domestic violence and that more than 30% of all Nepal’s hospital emergency-room admissions are women who have been abused.
WFN provides women and children in Nepal with a safe Shelter Home and covers all their needs, including access to educational opportunities, skills training and ultimately a proper job. The women and children are also provided with medical, psychological and legal assistance. And that is where Adara steps in.
For the past 5 years, Adara has partnered with WFN to fund pro-bono legal services for girls and women who are victims of domestic violence. Since we began this partnership, more than 2,204 women have registered legal cases with WFN, and more than 83% of these cases have been settled through the courts, mediation or counselling in the victims favour. These are women who have often overcome so many challenges in their lives and desperately need support. Women like Makisha*.
It is hard for Makisha to remember her father, who passed away when she was very young. But she had a joyful life with her mother, who worked extremely hard as a housekeeper to make ends meet.
Nothing could have prepared her for the shock and sorrow of losing her mother when she was a mere 10 years. Orphaned and alone, the next few years of Makisha’s life were extremely difficult.
But everything changed when she met her husband Dhurba and they fell in love. She finally had hope for a brighter future. But although life was smooth in the beginning, as time passed, Dhurba started beating Makisha on a daily basis. One day, in a rage Dhurba threatened to kill Makisha. He threw kerosene over her body and lit her on fire.
The pain was excruciating, but thankfully, Makisha ran immediately out of the house where she was rescued by her neighbour. “I can still feel the pain and bruise of fire on my body” says Makisha with a throbbing voice.
Although he was abusive, when Dhurba passed away a short time later, Makisha was left without a support system. Like her mother before her, Makisha sought housekeeping work to sustain herself, working in the house of Sanman. After a while Sanman proposed for marriage to Makisha. Initially, Makisha refused his proposal but later caved in and they started living together. But life was still not smooth sailing for this young woman. Her new husband denied her right to property and barely recognised her existence. In search of help Makisha came in contact with The Women’s Foundation. “With the help of this organization I have got the chance to fight for my rights in court” says Makisha.
After listening to the entire story of Makisha, the legal officer of WFN filed the case for her in the district court of Kathmandu. She is being provided free legal support by WFN and we are all waiting for the final decision. We are hopeful that her rights will be realised. To date, 91% of cases given a final decision by the court have settled in favour of WFN clients.
*Name changed to protect identity