Fighting violence with awareness – Nisha’s story

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Article 19 - the right to be protected from violence and abuse

Nisha looks over her shoulder to smile at the camera, wearing a red shirt and leather backpack. Off-white buildings are in the background
UNICEF Nepal/2019
25 September 2019

Birgunj, Nepal  Ever since she was a child, 19-year-old Nisha has been standing up for those around her. From an early age, Nisha knew that young people had the right to live a life free from violence and abuse. But again and again, she saw that right being violated.

“A lot of girls were forced to leave school and stay home because of discriminatory attitudes in society,” Nisha said. “I was really troubled by the various problems children around me were facing.” 

Nisha’s uncle had been a member of a Child Club in their neighbourhood, the goal of which was to help communities understand and advocate for children’s rights. Nisha watched her uncle actively engage with children, adults and caregivers, raising awareness about the need to create safer environments for children, including within their own families.

Nisha’s uncle explained his goals to his niece, and she realised that she could do more to help solve the challenges around her. At age 12, Nisha began attending the Child Club meetings herself. As a club member, she talked through the issues she was passionate about while standing up for her peers, tackling challenges like child marriage, child labour, and high dropout rates in school. 

Within a few years, Nisha became the club president. The involvement opened her up to a whole new world, and as she attended trainings, conferences and meetings on children’s rights, she steadily deepened her knowledge of child protection issues.

“Since my school days, I advocated for rights at every opportunity,” Nisha said. “Gender-based discrimination and violence were and are common problems in my community, and I was involved in raising awareness around those issues in the classroom.”

“If children learn about their rights, they will be able to fight for them. And if their rights are being denied, they can raise their voices to secure them.”

— Nisha

As part of the Child Club, Nisha visits schools around her community to raise awareness of violence and its implications. She has helped children understand how they should respond if they come across violence – either in their own life or in the lives of their peers.

In one of these sessions, a student approached Nisha after she had finished speaking. One of her friends, the girl said, had stopped coming to class. Her stepmother regularly beat her, and the girl had been forced to drop out of school to help with household chores. Nisha went to her house immediately.

Nisha spoke with the stepmother about the way she was treating the girl and the impact such violence would have on her future. Nisha also told her about the legal consequences she would face if the violence didn’t stop. Days later, the girl was back in school.

“Seeing the results of our work keeps me motivated,” Nisha said. “Some children we have helped are in college and others are learning vocational skills.”

Today, Nisha is completing her first year of law school. One day, she hopes to become a legal expert on children’s rights.  

“Only when everyone in Nepal knows about children’s rights can our country be truly child-friendly."

— Nisha