As the world, including Nepal, marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Sunday, and as the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence commenced the same day, an ugly, inconvenient and deeply disturbing truth of GBV is staring at the face of Nepal government, Nepal Police and the entire justice delivery institutions: That of almost four months old case of rape and murder of Nirmala Panta in Kanchanpur and the relentless struggle for justice by her parents and wider section of Nepali society. As a matter of fact, the government’s failure to expedite investigation to bring the rapists to book has made Nepal look like a state that fails to protect the dignity and safety of its girls and women. It is precisely for this reason, as we have written several times in this page, that the government must work with extreme urgency in Nirmala’s case and ensure that the perpetrators are jailed.
Patience is running out and there is anger and resentment against the government’s failure to nab the culprits. Meanwhile, Yagyaraj Panta, who has been staging a sit-in in Dhangadhi demanding justice, has started to suffer from mental health problems and he has been brought to Kathmandu for treatment. Yagya Raj raves in agony and shows unusual behavior. He screams and scolds and warns that he will shoot himself. Needless to say, state’s failure to provide him justice led him to this situation. What a shame for a country, that has outlawed rape and that has been the signatory to various international conventions against gender-based violence, to push a father seeking justice to this level of injustice.
In their message on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli expressed commitment to eliminate all kinds of gender-based violence. Oli has laid emphasis on adopting zero tolerance against all forms of VAW. Likewise, Provincial Assemblies are also organizing awareness-raising events starting from 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. But all this appears like a mere lip service when the government has failed to resolve the most heinous crime of rape and murder of a young innocent girl. There have been a number of promises issued by the home minister, prime minister and police officials to book the culprits of Nirmala’s rape. But so far, there has not been any visible progress on the ground. Instead impression is being created that the ruling party itself is protecting the criminals. This has resulted in loss of mental health of her parents and the hope of justice is fading. Nepal has already set the worst track record with Nanda Prasad Adhikari, who passed away while fighting for justice in 2014. A father is demanding that rapists and murderers of his daughter be arrested. Ignoring his call will only demonstrate that Nepali state is becoming cruelly intolerant to victims of gender violence. The government should guard itself against that infamy.