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Thousands of women across Nepal are still seeking justice for war time rape (Toofan Neupane)

14 July 2013

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Nepali Times, 12-18 July 2013 #664

Wounds that haven’t healed
Thousands of women across Nepal are still seeking justice for war time rape

Toofan Neupane in Nepalganj

On 23 November 2004, a group of army men came to Purna Maya’s home in Dailekh and accused her of feeding the Maoists. She was blindfolded, dragged out of her house, and taken to the barrack in Kadachaur where five men raped her mercilessly for hours. When she tried to resist, fists and boots rained down on her. Once they were done, they threw her in the middle of the street and left her for dead.

Purna Maya survived her wounds, but her life has never been the same. She came to Surkhet Hospital for treatment and has not returned home to Dailekh since then because she does not want to face the taunts of society. In September 2011, she finally had the courage to file a complaint at the District Police Office in Surkhet, but DSP Deep Kumar Basnet turned her away by saying an allegation must be made within 35 days of the incident. The Supreme Court too was similarly unresponsive. Only in December 2012, did the United Nations Human Right Committee registered her complaint.

With the help of NGOs the 40-year-old travelled to Cambodia last year to talk to women from around the world who had experience sexual violence. With the knowledge she gained from her trip, she started an all women’s group for violence and torture survivors in Surkhet.

Pavitra is a member of this group. She was abducted by the Maoists from Surkhet when she was 17 and still has nightmares of being brutally tortured and raped and even years after the incident, the scars of that night are fresh in her memory. Her husband of one year left her the moment he found out and she now earns her living washing dishes at a hotel.

Kalpana
Kalpana (name changed) from Satokhani, Surkhet was washing clothes when three Maoists invited her to a meeting. She had no idea what awaited her. For one and half months, the Maoist combatants repeatedly raped Kalpana and forced to become a porter. She was finally allowed to go home because of bad health, but hasn’t told her family about the rape till today.

Bimala who is also from Satakhoni has equally horrifying memories of war. Raped and beaten by seven Maoist guerrillas, the scars of that night are still visible on her stomach. Although she kept it a secret from her husband, she confided to female Maoist cadre. But so far she has neither received any support from the state or the Maoist’s disciplinary commission.

There are thousands like Purna Maya and Pavitra, but very few lodge a complaint due to fear of social stigma and further victimisation. According to the Nepal Conflict Report published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of the 100 registered sexual violence cases, the army is responsible for the all but 12. The report also says that one third of the victims are girls under 15 and even pregnant or mentally disabled women were not spared. News of the induction of combatants into the Nepal Army made headlines last week and political analysts were quick to hail it as an auspicious end to the peace process. But true peace will come only when the rapists are tried and put behind bars.

P.S.

The above article from Nepali Times is reproduced here in public interest and is for educational and non commercial use