The Story Kitchen’s two current projects, Sharing and Amplifying Her Allegorical Stories (SAHAS) for Justice and Voices for Justice (VfJ) use storytelling to encourage survivors of gender-based violence during the decade-long armed conflict between the Nepalese government and the CPN Maoists to feel safe enough to break their silence, come together to heal, and seek transitional justice. These projects are made possible with the funding support from the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and the Governance Facility. TSK is implementing SAHAS for Justice project in partnership with National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders in Nepal.
Gender-based violence during wartime is often not viewed as a crime in the discussion of human rights violations in Nepal. We see the strategic mobilization of women conflict survivors as the only approach to upsetting the culture of silence around these atrocities. In the decade since Nepal’s ten year armed conflict (1996-2006), women’s voices have been silenced and their participation in the public-political arena has been marginal. There has been no serious investigation of the experiences of women during the conflict. During the armed conflict, women and girls were tortured, raped, detained, and killed by both Maoists and the State. These women have been largely excluded from the rehabilitation and integration processes that have been underway since 2006. Little has been done since to bring the voices of these women forward.
TSK is countering this by documenting the stories of women who are survivors of physical abuse, torture, sexual abuse, women who have given birth as a result of rape, women who took an active role in the war, and women who lost family members as a result of the war. The Story Kitchen (TSK) believes that in order for peace to be sustainable, the voice of each individual impacted by the war needs to be accounted for in the processes constructed to address the consequences of war.
Deeply rooted patriarchal beliefs and discrimination against women in Nepal leave many women conflict survivors without the support networks and resources necessary to testify about suffering they experienced during armed conflict. The Story Kitchen’s work through SAHAS and VFJ creates a space for women who are survivors of wartime violence to share and heal, and supports them in building the courage to testify at the local and the national level. These stories shared with a wider audience help to hold government and policy makers responsible and accountable for their inaction. We believe that in the long run the increase in public understanding about gender-based wartime violence will promote collaborative action to prevent future violence against women.