Justice for Nirmala and Samjhana

Published On: September 25, 2018 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

It’s harrowing, horrifying, disturbing and shameful! Violence against girls and women, including rape, has shaken the core of our society. It has disgraced the country as a whole and exposed our police administration’s inefficiency to provide justice to the victims on time. It’s getting late to start concerted efforts from every sector, mainly from the government side, to unite all against violence against women and girls. Atrocities against our own sisters and daughters are crossing the limits. While Nepal Police has not been able to arrest the rapists and murderers of Nirmala Panta, a 13-year-old school girl, for more than two months, and perhaps because of that, more and more cases of rape and violence against women are being reported across the country. In Province-7 alone, 25 cases of rape have been reported after the tragic and enraging case of Nirmala Panta. If the police administration cannot take prompt action against the culprits, none of our daughters and sisters, it seems, are going to be safe in this country.

We have been stunned and enraged by the news of death of Samjhana Das, 18, one of the two sisters, who was undergoing treatment after an acid attack, in Kirtipur Hospital on Monday. Samjhana and her 16-year-old sister, Sushma, from Chandra Municipality-6, Rautahat were attacked while they were asleep on the night of September 11. Perhaps Samjhana could have been saved if she had been promptly brought to Kathmandu and treatment on her had been administered as promptly. If only her family did not have to struggle to manage money for treatment. The police have arrested Rambabu Pashwan in connection to this crime but it should not stop there. It’s apparent that our proceedings of imparting justice to victims of acid attack like Samjhana and victims of rape like Nirmala have been too bureaucratic. Nirmala and Samjhana did not have to die. They were too young. 

First, the police refuse to take the case promptly. When the victims go to file a case they are returned if it is during off-hours. This had happened in Nirmala’s case. Since the victims in most of such cases are the people from low income background with no connection with the politicians and higher rank officials, the justice for them comes only at the mercy of justice providers. The Office of the Prime Minister should create a separate mechanism, or make the existing systems, if any, more proactive, to look into such cases. Let us crate a mechanism whereby authorities promptly take up the cases related to violence against women. Such mechanism, however, should be manned by officials who are sensitive to issues of girls and women and who immediately spring into action any time of the day once the cases are filed. The government could create a hotline for reporting cases of violence against women. It’s already becoming too late to control these horrendous crimes against women and girls. Only when the message goes that the government authorities are dealing with rape and any type of violence against women ruthlessly, can we expect to save lives and ensure safety of innocent girls like Nirmala and Samjhana. 

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