Nine months on, Lalitpur gang rape victim still awaiting justice

Published On: September 16, 2018 06:38 AM NPT By: DIYA DHAKAL

KATHMANDU, Sept 16: While pressure is mounting on the government to take action against those involved in the rape and subsequent murder of Nirmala Panta, no one is raising the issue of another woman who narrowly survived after gang rape in Lalitpur, a district adjoining the capital city, nine months ago. 

The woman, who goes by the surname of Ghale, was kidnapped by a gang of three while on her way back home from work on November 18, 2017. The married woman went missing at around 7 pm that evening and was found in critical condition the next morning. After she was raped, assaulted and tortured gruesomely, the assailants threw a rock aiming at her head with an intention to kill her but she luckily survived. 

There was a blood bath in the crime scene. The woman’s body wore marks of assaults. She had sustained severe head injuries with her skull left completely exposed. Bruises covered both her thighs and breasts. She was immediately rushed to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital where she was received treatment for over a month. 

Mother of the raped woman, Urmila Pokharel, says that her daughter’s hand and skull were fractured and had to undergo surgeries. She got 25 stitches on her head and has lost her vision of her right eye. Even her hearing has been impaired, leaving her a handicapped woman. She now has to depend on others for her survival.

“My daughter barely escaped death,” Pokharel said, adding, “Almost a year has elapsed, yet she is still to get justice.” She says that her daughter has been denied justice although she had identified the perpetrators after she gained consciousness. 

The victim had assured the concerned authorities that she was capable of recognizing them but the authorities showed reluctance to book the rapists. She has clearly mentioned that Raghu Karki, Bishal Dhowj Karki, and Pawan Kunwar were involved in the incident. As of now, no action has been taken against the three who remain untraced almost a year since they committed the crime.

The family members are desperate for justice. They believe that if a dead girl (Nirmala) is getting so much attention, which she rightfully deserves, their daughter who is alive and breathing is also equally entitled to justice. 

“I am ready to sacrifice my life if that is the cost of justice for my daughter,” said a tearful Pokharel. 

The mother, who spoke to media for the first time since the rape, complained that the society did not speak up for her daughter when they had to. “No one was ever in support of our cause to fight for our daughter. Rather, villagers questioned her character even after having witnessed the extent of her sufferings.”

The victim’s mother and sister begged for justice in Saturday’s protest held at Maitighar in support of Nirmala’s rape case. They complained that the police didn’t conduct proper investigation, hinting at the possibilities of power-play in keeping those guilty hidden for so long. 

“We see so much support for Nirmala, and we are glad that she is getting justice that is lawfully hers. We just want the same support for our daughter,” Ghale’s mother said before bursting into tears.

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