A 31-year-old woman and another 18-year-old girl were raped in Saptari Monday night. Two incidents of rape in a district are not only shocking but also deeply disturbing. We have been reporting cases of rape and torture in several parts of the country in the last month or so. These incidents were cruel, inhumane and unfathomable. If our women are not able to walk freely, without fear of being raped, then we ought to question the kind of society we are building. Lal Babu Raut, Chief Minister of Province 2, and the concerned police authorities must move fast to arrest those criminals and take them to the court of law. Just as we were celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, Radha Chaudhary, 20-year-old girl in Kailali, was mercilessly beaten on witchcraft charges—a flagrant case of violence against a woman. Instead of reporting the case to the police and rescuing the innocent girl, all the villagers including the mayor watched this cruelty with silence. When the society as a whole loses the conscience to differentiate madness from rational act, then we have to worry about the state of our mindset when it comes to dealing with rape and violence against women.
Our local, provincial and the federal government must coordinate collective action against rape and violence against women. Many victims are arrested and set free due to political pressure. This must stop. Besides, women rights activists and NGOs which claim to work to provide justice to women need to be proactive. The people who are on the lowest rung of our society should feel that our justice system works for them as well. Many a time, rape victims are from poor families and they are often denied justice when the accuser and other agencies collude. We do not want to see that happen for the good of the society and for the kind of fair, equitable and just society that we are all trying to build.
According to the statistics of Nepal Police, 6,627 cases of rapes were reported in the last seven years. Of those, 4,589 were rape and 2,038 were rape attempts. Every year, 946 cases of rapes are reported, which is 78 cases per month. These are horrible numbers yet most cases remain unreported because speaking against such cases requires a huge amount of courage in our society. We as a society must be outraged by this. We must demand swift and harsh punishment for those involved in such a heinous crime. Now that we have all levels of government in place, and that most of the deputy chiefs of the local governments are female, we expect better situation in the days ahead. Now, the authorities have no excuse but to act and act fast. Our mothers, daughters, sisters and wives should not have to live in fear of being raped in our villages and cities. Rape cases are our collective shame. Let us unite to fight to end this menace once and for all.