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Nepal: Building Mutual Understanding Between Men and Women for Lives Free of Violence
Dayaram Thakur is one of the Most Understanding Husband Campaign finalists. He believes that women’s empowerment is key to the whole family’s prosperity. Photo credit: Pawan Neupane, Equal Access Nepal.
“My husband raped me almost every day,” describes a woman from Nepal’s Makwanpur district, one the the country’s regions most affected by HIV and AIDS. “He had the misconception that it was his right to have sex with his wife whenever he wanted to.”
Her story is not an isolated one. In Nepal, women are among the most exposed to new HIV infections. Trapped in a cycle of violence and abuse, their inability to negotiate safe sex and refuse unwanted sex contributes to their vulnerability. According to the National Centre for AIDS and STD Control in Nepal, housewives constitute 74 percent of the total reported cases of HIV among women — a large number of them are also spouses of migrant workers or wives of clients to sex workers.
Working to combat the issue, Equal Access — with the support of a three-year grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women — launched the radio programme Samajhdari in Nepal to increase awareness, connect people to appropriate services and encourage community action.
Nepali for “mutual understanding”, Samajhdari reached more than a million listeners every week since it began in 2006, sparking public discussions on the issue of violence against women and HIV prevention. Each show opened with a dilemma that a listener was facing, such as: “My husband forces me to have sex when I don’t want to. How can I say no?” The presenter then brought in a range of voices to comment on the issue, including listeners and local experts.
Equal Access trained women survivors of violence