DHANGADHI/ BAITADI, Nov 27: A 14-year-old girl of Bajhang Masta Rural Municipality-2 was raped by Rajend Bohara, 18, on August 13 while she was on her way to the mill. The incident was settled in the village on the condition of taking responsibility if she got pregnant. Bohara placed a 500-rupee note at the girl's feet as a fine for raping her and begged for pardon.
Within a week and a half of the reconciliation with the victim, Bohara raped 12-year-old Samjhana Kami. He even killed the girl after raping her. He was arrested on the charges of rape and murder. Only then did the relatives of the previous rape victim reach the police for justice.
A 17-year-old girl from Sigas Rural Municipality of Baitadi gave birth to a baby girl within six months of her marriage. After the incident, her relatives interrogated her. She said she was raped. The incident of her being raped by five people including her teacher became public. Initially, an attempt was made to settle the incident in the village itself but as the pressure increased the police arrested the five accused.
The incident of rape of another 18-year-old girl in the same Rural Municipality has become public after six months. An attempt was made to settle the incident in the village by paying one tola of gold to the victim. The settlement attempt made by the accused Dipak Singh Dhami has recently become public.
The incident came to light after the perpetrator repeatedly threatened and refused to abide by the agreement. Now that the incident surfaced publicly, police are preparing to take action against those involved in the incident.
An incident involving a 45-year-old man of Baitadi’s Pancheshwor Rural Municipality-4 who had been raping his 10-year-old daughter for the past two years came into light in July. An investigation into the incident has revealed that the father repeatedly raped the daughter after the mother eloped with another man. Her father had threatened to kill her if she exposed this to others. Police arrested the girl's father in June after she finally spoke about it. He is currently in custody.
These are some of the representative cases of rape that have become public. In remote villages in the far west, heinous crimes like rape are settled. Police have also stated that compromises are being made in rape cases in remote areas of the far west. Most of these incidents do not reach police and those who want to do so are harassed.
Spokesperson of the Sudur Pashchim Provincial Police Office, Senior Superintendent of Police Mukesh Singh said there is huge tendency of settling rape cases amicably in remote villages in the far-western region. “The so-called bigwigs of the society still enjoy suppressing the general public. The incidents of rape are somehow settled in the village and they rarely reach police,” he said. “The incident in Bajhang was also a consequence of that.” He said that the accused was arrested after the Baitadi;s incident came to their notice. He said that many such incidents are not reported to police as the practice of settlement still exists in villages.
According to Singh, a law with the provision of imprisonment of three years for those assisting the settlement is being introduced and action would be taken accordingly. Advocate Laxmi Dutt Pandey said that rape cases are not being made public due to the fear of being neglected by family and society and also because of the threats by the perpetrator. “The fear of being ostracized by society prevents victims from making the incident public,” Pandey said.
He said that such incidents were being organized for fear of being despised by the society. According to Baitadi District Police Chief DSP Narayan Prasad Adhikari, victims are obliged to hide such incidents due to fear, intimidation and threats.
Incidents of rape have increased in the Far West Province during the lockdown period. Bishnu Poudel of Child Helpline CWIN Dhangadhi, who is working in the field of children, said that rape by family members, neighbors and gang rape by duping victims is taking place in a secluded place. “Incidents of rape are on the rise in a worrying manner,” she said. “Such incidents are on the rise as culprits are acquitted through reconciliation in the village.”
Police data shows that women are being raped by close relatives and acquaintances. Taking advantage of the situation during the lockdown period, rapists have become more active. According to Prithviraj Awasthi, head of Jagannath Multiple Campus in Baitadi, rape cases are on the rise due to lack of moral education, increasing use of drugs and love from an early age.