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Gold for Sapana

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
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Photo: Basil Edward Teo

Photo: Basil Edward Teo

Devaki Bista, Himal Khabarpatrika, 13 July

When Nepali Times met 16-year-old Sapana*(pic, right) last month, she was training hard for the 8th World Taekwondo Cultural Expo in Korea and showed no sign of her traumatic past. This week, she has returned from the tournament with a gold medal.

For the seven other Nepali participants, who like Sapana were also victims of sexual violence, her victory was more than just a sporting success. But for Sapana, winning was still not enough to make her smile.

In 2012, Sapana, then 14, was raped by Sagar Bhatta and Amar Awasthi as she was travelling for her SLC examinations in Patan, Baitadi. The Baitadi District Court announced a Rs 50,000 fine and 13-year jail terms for Bhatta and Awasthi.

But this April, an appellate court in Mahendranagar released the two rapists. Once out, they threatened her father to not make any further appeals. Sapana moved to Kathmandu, where she stayed with Rakshya Nepal, an organisation that helps in rehabilitating sexual abuse victims.

Government lawyer Prakash Bahadur Bhandari, who has been fighting Sapana’s case, says he is not satisfied with the court’s decision and will appeal for justice again. Sapana herself can’t believe what has happened.

“What were the judges thinking when they let them go free,” she asks.

After years of counselling, Sapana was able to sit her SLC examinations this year and passed with first division grades. For someone who always topped her class, going back to school wasn’t difficult, but she was often haunted by the assault that changed her life two years ago. In between her studies – she wants to be a lawyer – she also took up Taekwondo lessons and earned a blue belt. Her gold medal this week has been well-earned.

*Sapana’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

 

Read also:

Fighting spirit, #711

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