Writer and activist Sabitri Gautam says: “Only a few rapists are taken to court, and even if they do, they are released on bail. This erodes the faith of survivors on the justice system, and sends the message to men that they can get away with rape.”
The number of rape cases recorded by police nationwide has increased four times in the last decade — totaling 1,131 rape cases last year, which is almost three rapes a day.
In 2013, a UN report estimated that 74% Nepali women have been raped, sexually assaulted or abused. A recent report by Red Cross Nepal shows rapes are on the rise, especially in areas affected by the 2015 earthquake, where hundreds of thousands of families still live in flimsy shelters.
But most victims prefer to remain silent, which shows their lack of faith in the justice system. Only the most extreme cases grab headlines and spark protests on the streets like the ones that followed the murder of a 13-year-old girl last month in Kanchanpur district in far-western Nepal. A post-mortem showed she was raped before being choked to death in a sugarcane field. Police caught a mentally unstable person this week, but family members say they have been pressured by police to accept him as the perpetrator, and that the police are not going after the real criminal.
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A photo of the girl’s body published in some mainstream dailies outraged the nation, and as the anger against impunity grew some women activists demonstrated in Kathmandu this weekend, slamming the government for not doing enough to go after rapists, and demanding the death penalty for the crime.
After the Kanchanpur rape-murder, MPs across party lines tabled a resolution in Parliament to take urgent and stringent measures to prevent rape. But Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara put the resolution on hold for weeks, reportedly at the behest of Prime Minister K P Oli.
Read also: Rape as a weapon of War, Tufan Neupane