By Om Tat Sat,
Hurray! Nepal just got a big tourism boost. You may not realize it but this could be Nepal’s new tourism promotion slogan – “Welcome to Nepal, where rape is not that much of a big deal!”
The Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa issued a statement saying that such an incident was “not a big deal.” According to him, this kind of rape and murder is a normal occurrence. It has happened in the past and it will happen again. Three days before the first anniversary of hot button issue of Nirmala Panta, a 13-year old girl from Kanchanpur, who was raped and murdered a year ago has brought out a callous and insensitive nature of the government.
This is the attitude of a majority government, whose responsibility towards such a heinous crime is one of apathy. It has become a common assumption that the culprit is someone with a strong government tie. The investigation by the police was full of suspecting activities such as not preserving the crime spot and evidence, demonstrated by washing the clothes of the victim and forced cremation of body by police by placing pressure on the family. What does it tell us when the police is busy in destroying the evidence?. The latest statement is worrisome, as was statement “it will take years to investigate the Nirmala rape and murder case.” About the DNA tests of 73 people not bearing any clue, allegation has been made that the DNA test itself was not the appropriate one, according to Kantipur daily news.
Nepal government’s solution to any problem seems to be disingenuous and reactionary. Take the case of SEE student suicide. The policy was to change the result to letter grades so no one would be considered to have failed. Yet, that did not work. Due to errors, wrong grades were published and good students took the fatal route. In response to sexual violence like rape, that has been increasing annually, the policy put in place was— Porn ban. In response to PUBG addiction of the youth, mostly young students, the government response was, hello again, “PUBG BAN.” What a simple world we live in. Ban everything, says the government.
If only the government had some thinkers, we would not be solving every solution with a Ban or trickery.
Many of the problems — sexual crimes, domestic violence or child marriage — are result of repression of women resulting from feudalism and patriarchic structure. Rape is the most heinous crime against a female. A deeper causal problem has to be addressed. Nepal is a closed society, which means that it is a sexually repressed country. Freedom of expression is an alien concept, and body exposure is looked down upon while alcoholism and sexual violence at home or in society is considered a normal aberration. Girls and boys are treated differently. For instance, even in the case of rapes, girls get defamed for life, while boys are given a pas. If a child is born from rape, there is no provision for citizenship since the biological father has to sponsor the citizenship. A rape victim is likely to never get married. Hence rape is worse than death in Nepal.
Sexuality is a natural force that needs to be handled honestly. Nepalese have failed to heed the natural biological curiosity and provide appropriate education and social openness regarding puberty, sexuality biological needs of a normal human. Disregarding natural urges and putting a lid on educating kids properly is bound to result in social evil of the nature we are witnessing.
In sexual harassment, first and foremost women empowerment must be implemented through societal restructuring to place women at the top of the hierarchy. Women have to be protected and respected for the immense contribution to humanity. Any policy, or social policy to disregard or demean womanhood must be prohibited and strongly dealt with through legal means as well.
It is another irony that the ancients in our culture used to celebrate sex and build world famous monuments like Khajuraho to celebrate and educate people about sexual acts. Women too used to be free and equal to men. Once the society took a down turn, as is natural to occur in human affairs, women’s rights were abridged, and equality of men was also sacrificed to serve the small elite class. Such curtailing of freedom, education and welfare of people can spell misfortune for the community and the nation. Sexual violence is a serious issue in Nepal, Nirmala is just a symptom of far more serious malady of Nepal.
The writer is a graduate of Arizona State University in Political Science. He is working as a social activist and motivational speaker for students across Nepal since 2007.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necesarily reflect the official policy or position of Nepalisite.