Mrs Shyam Kumari Sah
For the first time, the Human Rights price of the of the Embassy of France in Nepal has been presented by Mr. Zimeray to Mrs Shyam Kumari Sah, committed activist for the cause of women’s rights. The initiative, whose interest has been recalled by the Minister of State in his speech of December 10, embodies the ambition of France to make each of its embassies "houses of human rights."
Shyam Kumari Shah’s biography
Shyam Kumari Shah is a 30 years old Woman Human Rights Defender (WHRD) working for the last 8 years courageously for the protection of human rights on the grassroots level, putting herself at serious risk in order to provide justice to the victims. The cases she is working on include witchcraft cases, domestic violence as well as rape and dowry cases. She started working on human rights issues as a member of the Alliance for Human Rights Protection in Siraha district in 2004 and was for some time the Secretary of this Alliance. She is working for the last 5 years for the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) and is the chairperson of the NGO Mukti Nepal, which she has established on her own.
Working for WOREC she is responsible for the coordination of the WHRD’s work in 8 districts in the central region of the Tarai. Due to this position she travels a lot for fact finding missions visiting also remote villages to gather more information on cases. There were incidents in which she found herself surrounded by villagers during those missions receiving serious intimidations and harassments. She also accompanies the victims to the nearest Police station to report the case and file a First Information Report (FIR) . Naming the perpetrators make them accountable for their action. To ensure that the police investigate on the case she puts a lot of effort to visit the police station and remind the officers to investigate thoroughly.
Besides her commitment to work at the grassroots level she also campaigns for women’s rights on the central level in Kathmandu.
Being a WHRD on the grassroots level Shyam Kumari Shah puts herself under permanent serious risk. Due to her constant work on women’s issues she receives threats and harassments by villagers and political party cadres and sometimes intimidations from the police.
Championing on women’s rights, putting herself in the forefront when advocating against domestic violence and discrimination and proactively seeking justice approaching the security forces and community leaders, she challenges the norms and values of a patriarchal society. Shyam Kumari Shah puts herself at risk and exposes herself for further threats and intimidations by stepping clearly out of the traditional role assigned for women. What adds to her risk due to her work significantly is, that as a female Human Rights Defender she is more vulnerable and unprotected, since violence towards women is common and widely accepted on the grassroots level.
Shyam Kumari Shah is working in the Tarai region which is widely known to be a dangerous environment for Human Rights Defender in general, since extortions, abductions and extrajudicial killings are still pervasive, even though the activities of criminal armed outfits decreased. Especially the interrelation-ship between criminal armed outfits, political parties and state security forces limits Shyam Kumari Shah’s space to carry out her work in the pursuit of human rights and justice significantly.
Despite the severe impact that her work has on her personal security situation Shyam Kumari Shah is putting herself courageously in the forefront when seeking justice for cases such as domestic violence, sexual violence and physical abuse and advocating for issues such as discrimination on the basis of caste, class, ethnicity and marital status. Shyam Kumari Shah’s commitment plays a very vital role in reporting cases of violence against women to the administration of justice and break with the prevalent silence which surrounds especially domestic violence cases in the central region of Nepal. Despite receiving threats and severe intimidations she continues with her effort to bring justice to victims and make perpetrators accountable for the human rights violations they have committed.
Press articles about Mrs Sah :