For Women Only by Nitu Ghale

Photo: Nitu Ghale/

For women only: When a 19-year-old migrant worker returned to Nepal from Qatar last week, she was in a total state of panic. She was stressed about traveling during the pandemic and was anxious to get home. She understood that she will have to be in quarantine for 14 days, and was concerned about her safety. When she arrived, she was taken directly to a women-only quarantine set up by the Lalitpur Metropolitan City at the Nepal Youth Foundation building in Sunakoti, in the suburbs of Lalitpur district. “I was relieved, I feel safe and at home,” she said.

Since Nepal imposed the COVID-19 lockdown 24 March there has been a sharp rise in the reporting of gender-based violence in Nepal. Safety of women has been an issue in the mass quarantine centers all over the country. In June, a woman in a government quarantine centre, set up in a school, was gang raped. While three men accused of the rape were later arrested, activists argue that mass quarantine centers are not safe for women and other vulnerable groups. Moreover, public health experts have called for a revision of the government’s mass quarantine strategy warning that quarantining large numbers of people will turn camps into incubation centers.

Back in Lalitpur, Chiribabu Maharjan, the Mayor of Lalitpur claims that their women’s-only quarantine camp is the first of its kind. “There is a fear about catching the virus and what the future brings, women here will at least not have to worry about violence and rape,” he says. The quarantine center has 27 beds and two nurses providing full-time services. Nepal requires those returning from abroad to spend 14 days in quarantine. Nepal reported 13,564 cases and 29 deaths due to the COVID-19 virus.

Photo/Text: Nitu Ghale @eastern_keen
Text Edit: Mallika Aryal @mikaness

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