For the past weeks, there is one news item that has overshadowed news of the MCC or Ukraine: allegations that Nepali actor and model Paul Shah raped a minor colleague.
Shah, 32, is in police custody in Tanahau since 27 February after a 17-year old singer with whom he had done numerous music videos filed a complaint at the police accusing the actor of raping her under false pretenses of marriage.
Shah was on the run after he failed to appear before law enforcement following the charge filed against him. Before news of his arrest on 27 February, the actor said via social media that he would turn himself in.
Prior to his arrest, as details emerged about his alleged serial abuse of the teenager singer, Shah released audio recordings on social media in an attempt to explain to the public what he called “conspiracies” and “attacks” against him.
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Even as a significant number of Nepalis have called for Shah to be tried under the full extent of the law, his arrest has followed protests in front of the police station as well as on social media in his support, including by insiders within Nepal’s entertainment industry.
Meanwhile, the minor has come under intense public scrutiny as she continues to be the subject of various media content with the case involving a popular celebrity. She has broken down in tv interviews, complaining of mental torture.
Nepal’s Act Relating to Children 2018 defines those below the age of 18 as minors, and the case has drawn attention to the rape and abuse of minors. The case has also highlighted the fact that men, boys and gender minorities are not specified as victim of case of rape under the Criminal Code.
Some 45% of reported rape cases in 2020-21 were of girls below 16 years of age, according to Women Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC). There has been a steady rise in the number of rape cases in recent years in Nepal, although it is unclear if this is because there are more incidents or more women are reporting them.