Taboos Undercut Nepal's Marital Rape Law

By Tara Bhattarai
 

Many women in Nepal say they didn't know that involuntary intercourse within marriage has been outlawed. Women's advocates say those who are aware would rather call it a form of domestic violence than marital rape.
 

KATHMANDU, Nepal (WOMENSENEWS) -- Devaki Poudel, 39, has kept quiet about the abuse she's been enduring at the hands of her husband for nearly 25 years. She didn't want to embarrass her family.
 

Now, as Poudel talks, her nerves are visible. She has a sweet voice, but it seems suppressed.
 

"My husband doesn't like me talking and socializing with others," says Poudel, who requested her first name be changed for safety reasons. "If he finds out that I'm talking to someone . . . "
 

Poudel, her husband and their three kids have been living for 15 years in a rented apartment in the Lalitpur district, across the river from Nepal's capital. Her husband works as a security guard at a private company.
 

They were married when she was 15. Her parents prevented her from attending school because they believed she would become a prostitute if she were educated. To avert this fate, they married her to a man from a neighboring village, 25-year-old Ramesh Poudel, whose first name has also been changed to protect his identity.
 

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