Threatened with rape, death, and kidnapping, Rita Mahato has courageously continued her work to stop violence against women in Nepal. A health counselor at the Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) in Bastipur Village Development Committee, Mahato has been repeatedly harassed by men from the village who tell her that an uneducated woman should not be doing a man’s job and that men can suppress women.
Mahato has been an adviser to women who have suffered from violence and ensures that their cases are reported and filed, as they often have not been by the local police. In June 2007, dozens of men came to WOREC to threaten its staff and force them to evacuate the village within five days. Later that month, villagers threw bricks at the building and then at the workers when they came out to protest.
Rita Mahato and other women’s rights defenders have endured years of death threats and have risked their safety for the safety of others. Yet, their critical human rights work has not been recognized by the government, which still has not provided them with adequate protection as promised. Recent shifts in the political leadership may have marginalized her case, making a campaign for her safety all the more pressing.
Activists can work to save the life of Rita Mahato by writing letters directly to Nepalese officials during Amnesty International’s Global Write-a-thon on December 5-13. Defend Rita Mahato and her colleagues for having the courage to stand up to Nepal’s patriarchal social structure as a beacon of shelter and hope for women who have been battered and abused. Expose the stunted development of human rights in Nepal, whose government has not investigated the murder of two women rights activists since it came to power. Write for women’s rights in Nepal.