Rape devastates girls and women, causing great physical and psychological harm on them. And yet this heinous crime against our sisters and daughters continues unabated. A 13-year old girl was raped in Lamkichuha-3, Chisapani of Kailali district last week. There were 105 cases of rape, including four gang rapes, across the country in the last three months. These cases and the numbers are deeply disturbing. Such incidents must make us ponder the direction of our society and our collective silence and the lack of willingness to act, to do something to stop this unimaginable crime. We must, as a society, begin to ask difficult questions about the kind of culture we are used to and the legal system that does not effectively prosecute individuals involved in rape cases.
The infamous Darbar Marg rape case only came into light after media outlets reported attempted reconciliation by policemen. And the reconciliation was forced upon the girl and her family. This is a perfect case in point where the police personnel were involved in trying to hide rape cases in the heart of our capital city. This systemic culture of reconciliation after committing such a heinous crime has to be stopped. The police have to take the first information report (FIR) and take the case forward. But many police stations around the country simply refuse to take FIR due to political and other pressures. This is where the change must start from. There are those who are demanding death penalty to rape convicts. There is no evidence to suggest death penalty as an effective deterrent against rape, and Nepal is also a signatory to various international treaties against death penalty. Death penalty thus contradicts Nepal’s commitment to international treaties. Our police and legal system must deal with rape cases with extreme sensitivity and with the rigor they deserve.
Nepali society has for long taken girls and women as weaker beings unable to assert themselves without the support from male counterparts. This is one reason males take them for granted and do not hesitate to take advantage of their vulnerabilities. The mindset that women and girls are weak and dependent must be destroyed from early on and we need to teach our sons from early age to respect girls and women. Further, our education and social value systems must also institute zero tolerance against rape. There must not be attempts by social pressure groups to reconcile in the aftermath of such episodes. It is upon the teachers, parents, friends and other social groups to educate and rise against our collective silence. Rape has to stop. It is a shame on our system and conscience. Moreover, we are all guilty for not using our power, voice and energy to force the authorities to act against increasing rape incidents across the country. We must all speak out against rape and rage until our sisters and daughters can walk freely without the fear of being raped.