Among the 30 individuals invited to participate, one participant was unable to attend. The 29 included participants represented different ethnic groups, ranged in age from 18 to 55
years, and included bisexual, men who have sex with men, third genders, and metis
(cross-dressing effeminate males). Some were married, and lived with family, while others were single living alone or with their partners. They represented different socioeconomic classes, occupations (sex workers, government employees, students), and residence status (local residents, migrants from India, some displaced as a result of the conflict). All participants reported at least one personal experience with human rights violations during the last few years. We present selected representative verbatim quotes from the participants and parenthetical explanation for unfamiliar words.
What are human rights violations?
Participants’ responses to the initial query of broad conceptualization of human rights demonstrate identification with both physical and structural constructs of rights violations. One participant described human rights violations as:
"“Violations of the rights I was born with.”"
Another participant elaborated:
"“[Human Rights Violations are] not only gross physical violation but also subtle violations about how we are treated and how we feel.”"
They offered specific examples
"“We [Men who have Sex with Men] can’t get jobs, our families throw us out. We are forced into sex work, but then the police detain us. How will we survive? “"
Several participants stressed the importance of: “gaas, bas ra kapas [food, shelter and clothing]” as being fundamental human rights. According to another participant human rights are: “the right not to be treated like animals “
Human rights violations in the household
Several participants reported experiencing rights violations in the household because of their sexual inclination or their preference to neither marry nor raise children. One participant described:
“I married 15yrs ago under marriage pressure. My family discriminated against me and denied me my rightful property rights. Subsequently, my wife left me. My daughters get teased at school because of my
[Men who have Sex with Men] status. The Newari community has shunned me and don’t invite me to the Guthi
[a social organization or a patriarchial kinship used to maintain social order among the Newars]. I have not been back home in 5years.”
Another participant echoed his exclusion from cultural ceremonies.
"“I was not allowed to attend Bartaman [the sacred thread ceremony which is a traditional rite of passage for Brahmin boys] for my uncle’s son. “One participant stated, “Our families have disinherited us and would not come to bury us when we die.”"
The participants reported experiencing human rights violations at the hands of parents, siblings, and children. Several participants chose not to disclose their status to their families in anticipation of the potential household and family consequences arising from knowledge of their sexual identity and inclination. A few participants who supported their family through their work reported experiencing no rights violations at home. It is possible that their employment status and role within the household related to earnings and support may influence this relationship.
Human rights violations in school and workplace
Several participants reported being denied entrance to educational institutions because of the lack of specific laws. A participant stated,
"“It is hard for us to get admitted to school because our names are like boys but our photographs are like girls. We get called names like ‘chakka’ [derogatory slang for a homosexual or gay]. In the context of a class of gender when I questioned the teacher about third gender/intersex, the teacher was upset and removed me from class.”"
Several participants reported being approached for sexual favors. “One of the other sirs was drunk and asked me to come with him. He said ‘You make out with one sir, why didn’t you have sex with me?’ The teachers failed me in school because I did not have sex with them.”
Some participants described being offered lower salaries, being denied vacation time or being teased by coworkers because of their gait or shrill voice. One participant described:
“I was a dancer at a Casino. I was removed from work because I was a Hijra [males who adopt feminine gender identity]”
Human rights violations in public life
Some participants reported being discriminated while being interviewed for visas or having difficulty at immigration counters because the gender status in their citizenship certificates and passports did not match their physical appearance. They reported being cursed by drivers while boarding microbuses in the city. Several participants described difficulty in obtaining rented apartments. “The owners ask us for higher prices or ask us to vacate the house once they found out our MSM/TG status”. One of the participants stated,
“I am dalit [a group of people of different castes traditionally regarded as untouchables] and third gender and have experienced double discrimination. I have been called a mad person.”
According to another participant,
People say that homosexuals are unnatural. They are untrue and copy foreigners.”
Several participants reported that the media portrayed men who have sex with men and third gender as sex workers and prostitutes and did not respect their confidentiality because it published the names of individuals involved in specific incidents.
Human rights violations in the health care domain
Several participants reported human rights violations in the health care setting. According to one participant,
"“MSM living with HIV/AIDS experience double discrimination. Health professionals have negative attitudes towards us. The doctors mark their prescription for us as people living with HIV and AIDS [for those MSM who are infected] and then tell us that there are no beds for us. We cannot get surgery here. We are sent in circles from one Teku Hospital to Bir Hospital] in the city [of Kathmandu] and cannot find anyone to take care of us”"
A third gender participant stated,
"“Third genders experience discrimination in the health care setting. Nurses and doctors call us names such as ‘two organs’. When we go to clinics to seek treatment for sexually transmitted diseases we are shown as examples to others that ‘if you engage in unnatural sex acts this will become of you.’ That is why we do not attend the clinics.”"
Others reported receiving lower quality of care or being denied care as a result of their sexual identity or orientation. One participant reported, “We are tested in the emergency room when they draw our blood but do not tell us the results of our tests.”
According to another participant, “I was inaccurately diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases when the repeat test showed that I did not have the sexually transmitted disease.”
Several participants reported: “being laughed at or not respected … because of our physical appearance”.
According to a participant,
"“The health professionals ask ‘How should we treat you since you are not male or female?’ They don’t know us. They don’t want to treat us.”"
Human rights violations due to lack of adequate legal protection
Some participants also reported the lack of specific laws related to protecting fair and equitable employment regulations for men who have sex with men, or laws guaranteeing the right to inherit property, and right to an education. Several participants commented on the lack of legal status of marriages for men who have sex with men and third gender and the overall lack of adequate legal protection. According to one participant,
"“We do not have clear laws that will recognize men who have sex with men and third gender as an appropriate category in citizenship certificates.”"
Another participant stated:
"“Nepal’s justice is blind. There have been some improvements because metis can now use public restrooms. But they still call me names like randi [derogatory term for prostitute]”"
Violence at the hands of authorities
Some participants reported that they had experienced violence at the hands of authorities, while others reported being scolded for carrying condoms in public places. A few participants directly described personal accounts of violence.
According to one participant:
"A month ago, an officer arrested me and asked ‘Do you have male or female organs.’ He … invaded my privacy by touching my organs to determine the gender. They sometimes touch my breast. This has happened three times.”"
Another participant described how “… the authorities brutalized me at the lodge with two [other] officers a few months ago at another time.”
A third participant reported, “A few months ago I was picked up at night 12 o’clock. They took me away from the city to around 25 kms away. I said I was going to use the bathroom and escaped.”
A fourth participant recalled,
"“I was picked up by the authorities at 11 at night near [a neighborhood] about 5months ago. The van had 4 officers. Two of them were senior officers and the other 2 were subordinates. They asked me for money so that they could fill oil in their van. I did not have the money. They said that they would spare me if I had sex with them. Both officers had oral and anal sex. They used condoms which I provided. Then they dropped me off to my place. I did not file any official complaints.”
Some participants recounted incidents that happened several years ago. One participant reported,
"“I was going with my friend at 10pm on a winter night around 2years ago. I remember it as a Wednesday. I was detained. My friend fled away. One of the officers was asleep below. The other officer was drunk. I pleaded for help. He forced to perform oral sex. He did not use condoms. I was disgusted with this.”
According to another participant, “Around 8years ago the van came, they beat us unconscious and they raped us and left us to die in the fields.”
A similar incident occurring six years earlier was related by another participant.
"“The authorities imprisoned me and offered to release me only after I had sex with him. Then I was released.“"
According to another participant, “I was raped by the authorities 7years ago when I was 14years old. There were several officers. I did not report this to anyone.”
Mental health consequences
Several participants reported symptoms of anxiety surrounding their daily lives. One participant reported being anxious “because we are in the wrong body”. One participant was “worried about the adverse effects of taking hormones [to maintain their physical appearance], because we are unable to afford to go to Bangkok for sex change operations.”
According to another participant, “There is a lot of depression as a lot of people are afraid of being themselves. People don’t know who they are. “
Several participants described a sense of loneliness and social isolation. According to another participant, “I had the organs of a boy but the activities of a girl. I was always anxious and liked to live alone … I have contemplated suicide but I didn’t get opportunity to commit suicide. I felt I was a burden on the earth but I don’t have the strength to leave [this earth].”
Listing and ranking human rights violations
The list of human rights violation categories generated by each of the daily focus groups is shown in Table and the rankings of the top 3 violations are shown in Table . To illustrate our ranking process, on the second day 5 participants ranked police violations as being most important, 2 participants ranked educational violations as being important. Three remaining participants ranked discrimination due to lack of adequate legal protection, violations occurring within the family and health care setting as being most important. Hence this tie for the overall 3rd rank was resolved by examining the second preference of the participants. Three participants ranked discrimination due to lack of adequate legal protection as being 2nd most important (which was ranked # 3 on day 2) as compared to only 2 participants who ranked family violations and none who ranked health in their second preference category. Both the first and last group ranked human rights violations at the household level as being most important. These two groups also ranked the need to address social and economic rights violations and those occurring in the public setting. The second group ranked police torture as being the most important human rights violation that needed to be addressed along with those occurring in educational institutions. All three groups ranked discrimination due to lack of adequate legal protection as being among the top three violations.
Daily listing of domains of human rights violations among Sexual and Gender Minorities in Nepal
Daily Ranking of Human Rights Violations among Sexual and Gender Minorities in Nepal