Kantipur, 27 September
Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has blamed capitalism for increasing rape cases in Nepal, prescribing socialism as the only way to effectively control such crimes.
A parliamentary committee had invited Thapa on Wednesday to share the progress made in the months-long investigation into the Nirmala Panta rape and murder in Kanchanpur on 26 July, and dozens other rape cases reported thereafter.
Thapa did not inform the committee about perpetrators in the Nirmala murder, or how close police are to catching them. Instead, he delivered a long speech about feudalism, capitalism and socialism as if he was addressing a meeting of his own Communist cadre.
Thapa, an ex-Maoist guerrilla commander, said: “There are still remnants of the feudal culture in Nepal, and capitalism is thriving, which are promoting rapes and violence against women.”
He went on to add: “Capitalism treats and sells women as commodities. In capitalist countries, there are rapes and prostitution. Look at the US and India, for example.”
He added: “Rapes are not new in Nepal. It is not that such crimes are occurring only after this government was formed. More rape cases are being reported these days because there is now more awareness.”
Thapa argued that Nepal must be a socialist country to stop rapes. “We do not have a self-sufficient economy yet, and comprador capitalism is on the rise. We must break these existing socio-economic structures. The government alone cannot control rape, people also have to be aware.”
After denouncing capitalism as the root cause of rape culture, Thapa argued that technology, alcohol and drug abuse were also contributing factors. “We must control pornography and drug abuse. Crimes are often hatched when people are drinking,” he said.
A few female MPs from Thapa’s own party seconded his argument. Nepal Communist Party (NCP) MPs Rekha Sharma and Yashoda Subedi argued that capitalism objectifies women and breeds rape culture. MP Bijaya Subba demanded that Miss Nepal and other beauty pageants be banned to protect women from being raped.
MP Sujita Shakya sought a law allowing the government to castrate rapists to prevent rape. In response, a smiling Home Minister said: “That is a creative idea.”