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Petra Crociati works as a Fundraising and Communication Manager at Apeiron Italia. In this moving testimonial she underlines this Non-Governmental Organisation’s vital role. Since its foundation, 25 years ago, Apeiron has been engaged in the harsh fight to achieve gender equality, working on the side of Nepalese women. Its mission is focused on eradicating gender-based violence. More information can be found here: https://apeironglobal.org/.

Helene Sorger, Rebecca Weiß (Model), Photograph, 11 | Feminism and Gender Austria, 2019.

When the founders of Apeiron came to Nepal 25 years ago, they were received with the familiar kindness that Nepalese people show to foreigners.

Behind the big smiles, however, it emerged over time that gender-based violence is one of the main reasons why Nepalese women decide to take their own life. In fact, suicides, are one of the leading causes of death for non-elderly women in Nepal[1]. Before getting to know Apeiron, I had never explored the issue of gender-based violence beyond Italian borders, if not indirectly in relation to migration phenomena (such as genital mutilation, forced marriage, and the exploitation of prostitution, etc.). Our organisation was born from the desire to reach across borders and to not just be spectators of the world’s injustices, but to actively work towards a just and equal world for women everywhere. This is reflected in our name.

Apeiron is the Greek for “without limits”.

Despite this, most of the victims in Nepal do not look for any kind of help, and only 7% of women who suffered domestic violence ends up reporting it. In front of this situation, the Nepalese government has taken steps to address this problem and showed its commitment to assist women survivors of domestic

violence by ratifying important conventions such as CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms

of Discrimination Against Women) in 1991, and by adopting the BPFA (Beijing Platform For Action) jointly with other 188 countries in 1995. Additionally, the government has supported the opening of so-called “safe homes” all over the country. Nevertheless, gender-based violence remains one of

the main problems that Nepal has to deal with today. Violence against women does not represent an exclusive reality of Nepal. However, there are systemic and deeply rooted issues that make this problem in Nepal a very serious one. Among them, the strong patriarchal structure of Nepalese society and a complex social system. These realities have been the result of the influence largely given by the legacy of

caste divisions. Nepalese society has changed a lot throughout the

last 25 years. Since Apeiron started working in the country, Nepal has been through a civil war, a

devastating earthquake, and now it finds itself in the grip of a pandemic. In order to respond to the variety of challenges, the commitment of our organisation is extremely diversified. We provide different kinds of

interventions, ranging from support for vocational training and non-formal education to raising awareness of sexual and reproductive rights. We fight against gender-based violence and support the reception and rehabilitation of women survivors. Our hallmark is that we are always on the side of women. We strongly believe in their strength, and in their pivotal and determining role in fighting prejudices, abuse, and violence. We will continue to support women and young girls. In the future, our work will also extend to Italy and we aim to increasingly involve older and younger men as an effective way to remove all the obstacles that still hamper complete gender equality today, both at individual, and domestic and community levels.

[1]Simkhada, P, E Van Teijlingen, R C Winter, C Fanning, A Dhungel, and S B Marahatta. 2015. "Why Are So Many Nepali Women Killing Themselves? A Review Of Key Issues". Journal Of

Manmohan Memorial Institute Of Health Sciences 1 (4): 43-49.