KATHMANDU, March 31: Rape victims, who had been dormant for 15 years since the peace process between the then rebel CPN (Maoist) and the government began, have finally started raising their voices. In a two-day conference held in the capital on Tuesday, the women victims of the conflict decided to break the long-standing silence and came forward in the limelight through the conference.
A two-day national conference was held in the capital on Monday and Tuesday under the leadership of former Member of Parliament (MP) Devi Khadka to identify women victims of the insurgency from across the country. The conference had prepared various demands. The 15-member central committee has handed over the demand letter to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Chairman of the CPN (Maoist Center) Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Both the leaders shed tears after being emotional as the victims portrayed the events of their lives. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday in the capital on behalf of the victims of the conflict, Khadka said, "Prime Minister Deuba had said that he will imprison all of the culprits. However, at first, the priority should be to keep the victims safe. Then, the culprits can finally be punished.”
Mentioning that both the leaders cried after hearing the story of the victims, Khadka said, "We have been crying till date. However, today, we felt a little lighter after the two top leaders of the country wept after hearing our stories.” Khadka said the number of women raped during the insurgency was much higher than imagined. However, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has received only 314 complaints from women who were raped during the conflict.
It has been years since the commission was formed, but no action has been taken against the culprits. "Only 10 percent of such victims have filed the complaints," Khadka said. "The remaining 90 per cent are still out of reach.”
Similarly, according to Khadka, most of the victims were 12 and 20 years olds. Women over that age make up about 10 percent of all victims. “They are not in a position to come out of the state of mental and physical pain,” Khadka said, “So we want to record this pain for future generations. The future society will at least respect the pain these women have suffered for the establishment of a republic in this country, even after their death.”
Likewise, Khadka also mentioned various kinds of inhuman activities such as a mother, her daughter and daughter-in-law were raped simultaneously by five people and a daughter was raped in front of her father, among others.
Meanwhile, the victims have also put forward measures to investigate these issues by making proper laws. They have demanded the government make legal arrangements to address the conflict-era incidents and the current incidents against women and girls.
In a response to the question, what should Prime Minister Deuba and Chairperson Dahal do, she said, "At first, proper housing facilities should be provided to the victims. Then, as many of these victims have serious health problems due to torture and rape, proper treatment facilities should be available to them. And third, the perpetrators must be punished.”
The armed conflict that started on 13 February, 1996 lasted for 10 years. Although the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission were set up to resolve the problems of the conflict victims after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed on 21 November, 2006, the commissions have not yet been able to conclude their work.