Nepal draft charter angers women

KATHMANDU • Nepal's proposed new Constitution has sparked fury from women who say their citizenship, property and other rights are being curtailed by the document designed to draw a line under centuries of inequality.

Lawmakers tabled a draft in Parliament in June shortly after bickering political parties struck a deal, spurred to negotiation by an earthquake in March that killed more than 8,800 people.

But a series of sometimes violent protests has since hit the impoverished nation, with activists saying the charter fails to address a string of concerns.

Shop owner Rama Bista, 40, who is married to an Indian man based in Nepal, has spent four years trying to secure citizenship for her two sons - their legal right under the current Constitution.

"They tell me my children are not Nepali, that I should go to my husband's country," Ms Bista said.

Her goal will be impossible under the new charter, which bars single parents from passing on their citizenship to their children, saying that both parents must be Nepalese.

The charter will overturn a 2006 law that says children are eligible for citizenship as long as one parent is Nepalese. Activists say it could leave a million people stateless and will disproportionately affect women.

Campaigners fear provisions could also be used to prevent Nepalese wives or widows from inheriting property.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2015, with the headline 'Nepal draft charter angers women'. Print Edition | Subscribe