Kathmandu: The open space ahead of Kal Bhairav temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square suddenly came alive on Wednesday afternoon. A crowd of curious strangers huddled together in a semicircle. Smartphones raised, they jostled to get ahead for a better view of what was transpiring on the makeshift stage. At the center, a team of young adults was still busy setting up the stage, and on one corner, a band was ready to perform. As the guitarist played the first few chords of Ani Choying Drolma’s soulful “Phoolko Aankhama,” a hush descended to the atmosphere.
So began the staging of the play “Falamko Tilahari,” put together by a team of undergraduates from the Bhaktapur-based Kathmandu School of Law. The play was performed to mark the ongoing worldwide campaign 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.
The play pieces together stories of different sorts of domestic violence that women in Nepal have to face—forceful abortions, dowry, witchcraft allegations, marital rape and torture. The play brought together characters from various walks of life, young adults, middle-aged and senior citizens. It highlighted how domestic violence is faced by all women irrespective of age. The play also aimed to aware the spectators about the law against domestic violence in Nepal, with characters in the backdrop holding placards that showed how domestic violence is codified in Nepal’s law.
According to United Nations Population Fund, 48 percent of Nepali women have experienced some form of violence at some point in their lives, with 15 percent experiencing sexual violence.
Given how widespread gender-based violence is in Nepal, it requires consistent efforts from the state, its agencies, stakeholders and the general public to end it. Plays like this are important because they sensitize the public about the gravity of the problem and ways to tackle it.
The play underscored how pervasive gender-based violence is in Nepal. The actors came from a law school but they might have been from a theater school. The acts were naturally performed, emotions rendered with restraint, and sensitivity of the subject well-handled. The acts were accompanied by poignantly-enunciated voiceovers that narrated harrowing stories of violence that moved some members of the audience to tears.
Given how widespread gender-based violence is in Nepal, it requires consistent efforts from the state, its agencies, stakeholders and the general public to end it. Plays like this are important because they sensitize the public about the gravity of the problem and ways to tackle it. The play “Falamko Tilahari” was one of hope. As the play approached its end and the crowd began to scatter, the atmosphere reverberated with a rendition of Bipul Chhetri’s encouraging, soul-enriching song “Aashish”–a fitting closure to a play about hope, for a better future.