KATHMANDU, Aug 25: Top political leaders have remained conspicuously silent over the increasing cases of rape and murder of girls in various parts of the country.
The politicians as well as the top bodies of major political parties have remained silent, as if there is no serious violence against women .
Political parties are usually not slow in coming out with statements, sometimes even on trivial issues, if these concern party members. But their leadership has not said anything about the heinous crimes taking place of late, including the gruesome killing of a girl in Kanchanpur. Police, the relatives of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta and locals say she was raped and murdered.
The schoolgirl was murdered following rape in Bhimdatta Municipality last month. Her family has accused police of being reluctant to search for her when she went missing and for the culprits after her body was found in a sugarcane field.
Following pressure from locals, police arrested and made public a mentally challenged individual, but they suspect he is just being used as a scapegoat to protect the real culprits.
Police used force against family members and locals when they staged protests Thursday demanding justice. Four protesters suffered bullet injuries and the issue has drawn widespread attention.
Social media was flooded with posts venting ire against the government for suppressing the protests instead of working to deliver justice. But the president, the prime minister, cabinet ministers including women and leaders of the opposition parties have not spoken a word about the incident.
It was only after police injured protesters that the opposition Nepali Congress (NC) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party issued separate statements condemning the use of force . But the top leaders of the two parties have not raised the issue at any platform .
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has not held any meeting, issued any directive to the authorities concerned or even spoke about the issue so far.
Nepal celebrated after the election of Bidya Bhandari as the first woman president . But now fingers are pointed against her for keeping mum over the increasing incidence of violence against women.
“Madam President @PresidentofNP with due respect, are you going to maintain silence about #Rape in your own country which is #Nepal madam? Absolutely disappointed with the State and having a female President was our trump card!” women rights activist Hima Bista vented her ire on twitter.
Irrespective of her constitutional position, President Bhandari convenes meetings and discussions on political issues. But she has not lifted a finger to get the government to take this issue seriously .
Many tweeples have expressed frustration at the indifference of politicians, claiming that the policy of the state towards women remains unchanged even though the president is now a woman and there are women ministers in the government.
A motion of public importance demanding various measures to curb rape and violence against women was stuck in parliament for a month. Lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties seconded the motion only on Friday.
Lawmakers have sought harsher punishment for rape and awareness campaigns including in the school curriculum. Responding to these concerns, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa said the government was commitment to ending violence against women.
But no senior political leader took part in the deliberations in the House, apparently unmoved by this burning issue .
#JusticeForNirmala has been trending in Nepal since Friday morning and tweeples have been using hastag of #RageAgainstRape to protest increasing cases of violence against women. "Dear Prime Minister, @kpsharmaoli Trains can wait. Ships can wait. But Justice cannot. Your people need your help right now,” Suraj Air tweeted.
Rights activists, civil society members and the general public have called for a noon rally at Maitighar on Saturday to pile pressure on the Oli government.