Unbound: A New Day for Nepal’s Widows

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Maryam Violet

17 January 2014

In Nepal, widows are discriminated against more than other women. When a husband dies, a newly widowed woman will find herself summarily deprived of several basic human rights. Among other things, she must remain vegetarian for the rest of her life, she must wear dark clothing, and she will often face near-impassable roadblocks to mobility. If she has no skills and no employment, she is still expected to provide for herself and for her children, a stricture that often forces these widows into lives of begging and abject poverty. What is more, many Nepalese people consider widows “bad luck” and inauspicious in their society. Things have begun to change for Nepalese widows, however—and change for the better.

This video examines the work of Women for Human Rights (WHR), an NGO that has made great strides to correct the injustices experienced by Nepalese widows. At the grassroots level, WHR has provided invaluable housing services, job training, and social support to single women throughout Nepal. At the policy level, WHR has put considerable pressure on the Nepalese government to change discriminatory legislation and has succeeded in overturning several of the most oppressive of these laws. Right now, WHR supports over 100,000 single women in Nepal and they continue to evolve and grow in their network.

Film shot in Kathmandu by ZananTV producer Maryam Violet (2011).

Archive shots courtesy of Women for Human Rights (WHR).