The Journey from Self Help to Community and Crisis Support
Mitini Nepal started its journey in 2002 AD with the establishment of ‘Mitini Support Group’ in Blue Diamond Society (BDS). The concept of having a separate and safe space for lesbian women in BDS led to the formation of ‘Mitini Support Group’ that implemented programs and activities for lesbians. Since lesbians are the vulnerable and marginalized within LGBTI community, and their voices and concerns are often ignored. Laxmi Ghalan and Meera Bajracharya, the first openly lesbian Nepalese couple led the group.
At first, the group, consisting of 5 members, provided a safe platform for lesbian women to voice out their issues and prioritize their concerns freely without being diluted among the issues of gays and transgenders. The group raised societal awareness on the various issues and concerns faced by lesbians, bisexual and transgender women such as human rights, sexuality, political participation, health and other gender-related issues and concerns. The group also engaged and involved the LBT women and various stakeholders in bringing about positive, empowering and liberating changes in the lives of LBT women, and conducted programs to develop and enhance the capacity of LBT women to become advocates and leaders in the LGBT movement.
In 2003, Mitini Nepal Group started a hotline service solely for lesbians with an aim to reach out to other lesbian women and share information about lesbians. This program was very successful and helped many lesbians to come out and share their issues freely. In 2004, Laxmi Ghalan and Meera Bajracharya received 10-day training in Sangini, India, where they learned about effective operation of hotline service, counseling for lesbians and their family members, and community peer sharing. After this, they worked extensively to raise awareness on lesbian issues through pamphlets, hotline service, counseling, and email.
In 2005, Mitini Nepal Support Group was renamed as ‘Mitini Nepal’ and registered in Kathmandu District Administrative Office as a Non-Government Organization (Not For Profit). But still, MN was operated in a rented room in BDS office premise and held a joint bank account with BDS till 2007. In 2007, MN physically separated from BDS and opened a new bank account, and formed its own advisory and executive board. Since 2007, Mitini Nepal has been receiving an annual operational grant from Global Fund for Women. MN established its branches in Jhapa and Makwanpur districts in 2007 with the support from Mama Cash.
Since 2007, MN has been advocating for the inclusion of LBT women in The Women’s Movement and has been closely working with women-rights organizations. One high profile example: From 2012 to 2014, there was a case of a lesbian couple, Rajini and Prem Kumari Nepali. Rajini was a married woman and her husband and in-laws were against their relationship but Rajini and Prem Kumari wanted to stay together. With support from GFW, Urgent Action Fund (UAF) and TEWA, Mitini Nepal took the case and filed a petition in the Supreme Court. On 5th Nov 2012, Supreme Court (SC) permitted a lesbian couple to live together as per their wish. But, in-laws of Rajini threatened to kill them and hence, they were relocated and settled at Hetauda from Kathmandu.
Mitini Nepal continues to pledge this type of high level of support to LBT individuals in crisis situations.–Mitini President, Laxmi Ghalan