|Female soldiers smile as they speak with each other while posing for group pictures at the premises of army barracks in Kathmandu, Nepal on Nov 21, 2020. (File photo by= Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Four women wearing protective gear lift the body of a COVID-19 victim at the Pashupati crematorium in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, and hand it over to crematory workers: A scene unimaginable in the conservative country in recent years.
Women touching a dead body is still a cultural taboo in Nepal. But rights for women have improved since the majority-Hindu country emerged from a decade-long conflict in 2006 and abolished its centuries-old feudal monarchy two years later. The women carrying corpses in Kathmandu, all soldiers, are being deployed for the first time as the nation of 30 million people tries to manage the bodies of COVID-19 victims amid the growing pandemic.
“I feel privileged and happy for being given a chance to do the work that was done only by the males so far,” said one of the women, a 25-year-old corporal named Rachana, who asked to be identified by just one name. On their first day on the job last month, the four moved six bodies from a hospital to a crematorium. Nepal Army spokesman Shantosh B Poudyal said the 95,000-strong force was putting women soldiers in new roles, part of a program to empower them. Nepal's army is responsible for managing the bodies of coronavirus victims across the nation.