(Apr. 24, 2009) On April 19, 2009, the Parliament of Nepal enacted a law on domestic violence. Under the Domestic Violence and Punishment Act 2065, domestic violence is defined as “physical, mental, sexual, financial as well as behavioral violence.” (Laws Enacted to Check Domestic Violence; Protect Health Institutions, Workers, REPUBLICA, Apr. 20, 2009, available at http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news
_id=4062.) Perpetrators will be subject under the Law to up to four months of imprisonment and a fine of Rs6,000 (about US$76); accomplices will receive half of the perpetrator's sentence. (By contrast, however, it seems that under the draft version of the law, the maximum penalty prescribed for offenders had been a six-month prison term, a fine of Rs25,000, or both.) Where physical or psychological injury has been inflicted, the perpetrator will be responsible for bearing the costs of the victim's treatment. Repeat offenders will face double penalties for each new act of domestic violence perpetrated.
Victims of domestic violence are to file a complaint with the police, the local government, or a women's commission within 90days of being subjected to the act(s). Hearings on their cases will be in camera. Government-founded service centers will provide victims with security, treatment, and rehabilitation, as well as such services as legal aid and psychological counseling. (Id.; Law to Curb Domestic Violence, eKANTIPUR.COM, Mar. 27, 2009, available at http://www.ekantipur.com/kolnews.php?&nid=186554.)
On the same day, the Parliament also passed the Act to Protect Health Institutions and Professionals. Nepal has reportedly seen in recent years “an alarming trend of relatives of patients, who die in the course of treatment, attacking health institutions and professionals accusing them of carelessness in treatment and demanding compensation.” (REPUBLICA, supra.) According to the President of the Nepal Medical Association, Kedar Narsigh K.C., during his two-year tenure there have been 40 cases of such violence, but “[n]ot a single person was prosecuted,” leading him to express doubt whether the Law can be enforced “if lawlessness continues in the country.” (Id.) Under the new Law, the punishment for persons convicted of attacking a health institution or professional is a prison term of three months to five years, as well as liability for all damages. (Id.)