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Saturday Aug 20, 2022

Has Nepal failed in ensuring women’s safety?

With the rise in sexual crimes against women, critical discussions on women’s safety in Nepal have become indispensable.


Nepalnews
2022 Jun 05, 12:21, Kathmandu

Seven women and children fall victim to severe sexual crime every day in Nepal.

The Nepal Police has revealed that cases of violence against women (VAW) are on the rise as per the analysis of information held by the police department for more than a decade.

Nepal Police received 2,534 cases of rape in 2020-21 against 2,144 in the previous fiscal year, which shows an increase of 18.19 percent. “ Women between the ages of 11 and 25 are the ones being victimized by sexual perpetrators in Nepal, whereas the majority of culprits are men in the age group of 19 to 35,” says a member of parliament, Binda Pandey.


The glamourization of the degradation of women be it abusive language, or objectification of women’s bodies is rampant in today’s world which attempts to commercialise everything including women. Amidst such disturbing realities, the students of St. Xavier’s College, Kathmandu have initiated the project ‘ABHAYA’ ( Fearlessness) with the slogan, ‘ Safety should be a way of life. Not just a slogan.’ which plans to execute itself in different phases in the upcoming months.

After the completion of the panel discussion with expert panelist members, the project will further continue to implement itself through street dramas, awareness programs, podcast sessions and the development of an app for women’s safety. The app will use information and communication technology to create a secure and confidential platform for users to report gender-based violence and hence protect such vulnerable people in the community. “Incidents of rape are increasing unimaginably every day. When I found out about such incidents through the media, my heart became very heavy. Also troubling are the depictions of women preceding rape scenes, as well as the idea of depicting women as sex symbols in item numbers. This is all a part of a ‘rape culture, which is being inadvertently encouraged and perpetuated. It clearly shows how much ‘hypocrisy’ exists in society and how deep the oppression of women is. For this, to bring a change we wanted to become the change that we wish to see in the world. That's how ABHAYA began,” says Ishika Panta, a student leader leading the project.

“Recently, the Nepal police was successful in arresting nine perpetrators of rape within 24 hours of a crime report, which demonstrates that prompt action from the law enforcement is possible. However, later the perpetrators were released on bail for Rs. 3,00,000 ( three lakhs) fine,” says Dinesh Raj Mainali, Superintendent of Police, Kathmandu.

But as recent times exposed the loopholes in Nepal’s law, Dikshya Raut, a Legal advocate specialising in Human Rights and Internet Law says, “There are many loopholes in the law regarding the punishment of sexual crimes in Nepal, and the perpetrators take full advantage of it.” “Maximum punishment given to a convicted perpetrator of rape in Nepal is 25 years, which is called life imprisonment but the culprit escapes this sentence easily,” she adds.

“ The time limit of one year for the reporting of sexual crime in Nepal’s constitution should be changed. It was 35 days in the past, then it was elongated to 6 months before it was decided to be one year,” she further adds.

“ The abolition of the one-year time limit is being discussed in parliament by the MPs, as this law serves as a relief to culprits, who feel secure of not having to face any legal consequences by the state after the one year time period of their crime is crossed,” says a member of parliament, Binda Pandey. “Not just the law and policy sector, but we also need to strengthen the investigation regarding such heinous crimes, and new technology should be used,” she adds.


On the matter, Bishwa Adhikari, Central Investigation Bureau, Nepal, mentioned the establishment of the “ Crisis Management Centre” which is being established in hospitals in different parts of the country that has been working to provide medical treatment, psycho-social counselling, legal protection, personal security and temporary shelter to survivors of sexual crimes.

 “The problem is we have become a reactive society, when an unfortunate incident takes place or is made known to the public we react a lot, but that power diminishes in a while, and we do not look for long term solutions to serious problems like this,” says Pradip Pariyar, Executive Chairperson of Samata Foundation. Samata Foundation is actively involved in issues impacting Dalits and aims for social inclusion through research, education and informed advocacy. Pariyar believes that the lack of proactive government and police as well as the introduction of laws without recognizing their long-term effect is the main reason behind the failure of Nepal in ensuring women’s safety.


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violence against women (VAW) sexual crime ABHAYA Gender-based violence Nepal’s law Samata Foundation NepalNews rape
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