VAW, A Henious Crime

D.M. Thapa

It has become distressing to read reports in media outlets about crimes against women. From rape, to harassment at workplaces, not bringing enough dowries and even thrashing them for practicing witchcraft all these acts are very offensive. This is really horrifying for persons like me, though not in any women campaign, I am still concerned about women, both in the Terai region and also in the hill districts about the difficulties they have to go through almost all the time in their lifetime. For example the Nirmala Panta case when this young girl was raped and killed. This was a heinous crime, the authorities cannot get away with it just by sacking two police officers and suspending several others.

The culprits must be found, as demanded by the heartbroken parents of the girl and when found, they must be given the harshest of punishment. Violence against women, no matter in what form, should not be taken lightly. The courts must also realise this. The culprits when proved guilty must be severely penalised and not allowed to go free in a short time or just by putting in some bale money.
I have heard from different sources how women are harassed in workplaces, in public transports and even in temples, but these cases go unreported. Imagine how many such cases are taking place but the victims have to remain quiet due to different pressures, including social ones and also family prestige. I was also distressed to read a report in The Rising Nepal, where it was said more than two dozen under aged girls had to be rescued from different dance bars. Just rescuing the girls is not enough; those who employed them must also be prosecuted. But the authorities seem to turn a blind eye to such issues.
One friend told me how a senior level boss molested and even raped many junior level female employees, just because he was in power. Though many others knew about his activities, they just kept quiet and my source told me how this man had to leave Nepal in a hurry when it was found he raped the daughter of the landlord in whose house he was staying. Actually these fellows must be punished and pursued by the authorities like gold smugglers or other criminals.
But we hear of gamblers being arrested, innocent women who aborted an unwanted child being arrested, some individuals with just a little bit of drugs being arrested and some individuals even killed in the name of “encounters” but the real criminals fly off to foreign lands and stay free. Is this justice?
The Nepal Police is under a new commander now. I know he is a young man and quite willing to make changes for the better in the Department. He should see it to that catching small criminals, let us say for some who tried to bring in some firecracker into the country, is not enough. Like mentioned time and again by no less than Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, “The Big Fishes” should be caught. But the concerned authorities seem to be unable to do that. It is hoped this tough Chief can make some changes.
Accountability is a major point in accepting the failure of those people working under them. From the prime minister, the ministers and others in high level positions all should be accountable to the people, to whom they have said, they have come to serve. After all this is the rule of real democracy or “Loktantra” as we call it now. But like late Girija Prasad Koirala, the many ministers who worked under him, the top level bureaucrats and security officials, nobody seems accountable. This is why the people are losing confidence in the government, the different departments under it and even the security forces. So we should give more time for this government to correct the faults of the past and build the confidence of the people.
To come back to where we started, one cannot help but praise the work of women activists who have not only spread awareness about sexual harassment, but also encouraged women to come forth and reveal what tortures they have been through. This is the only sunshine one sees in the bleak scenario of women being exploited and even sexually harassed in many places, including in their own homes and also workplaces. It is reported that women who work at night are especially in a precarious situation. Those who take advantage of such a situation must be condemned and even punished.
The women rights activists must also not be satisfied by getting certain number of women in positions in a political party, the parliament or even some women being appointed in some certain government organisations. They must fight for the weak women who have no place to plead about their sufferings. Where can a woman who has been forcefully groped in a crowded micro bus complain? There must be a place for those who have faced torture in their day to day life to come out and complain about the culprits. This would be a much bigger forum for the women rights organisations rather than holding seminars or conferences, that also in five star hotels. Let us give space to the real victims who have nowhere to turn to, not even their families.

I am not a “me too” follower, but I know about the agonies of many Nepali women who suffer from the torture of harassment, ill treatment from their own family members and also other abuses in different forms. My heart goes out to them and I hope someday, a real women’s welfare organisation comes forth and soothes their wounds. That is all I have to say about the brave Nepali women, who not only fought wars, even before the Westerners did, they silently worked hard for the family and they persistently did what they were told to do.

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