Activists, academia probe spate of rapes

- Rastriya Samachar Samiti, Kathmandu

Apr 5, 2018-

“Rape is a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear,” American feminist Susan Brownmiller wrote in her 1975 book ‘Against Our Will: Women, Men and Rape’, that was acclaimed and criticised. 

Incidence of one-on-one rape, gang rapes, molesting, groping of women in public transport and physical violence against women have increased in Nepal recently.

Among the many crimes against women that made headlines in newspapers are the gang rape of a 22-year-old woman by her acquaintances in Hotel Landmark at 

Durbar Marg; the rape of a seven-year-old girl in Parsa; the rape of a 65-year-old woman in Saptari; and the murder after rape of a student appearing for SEE exams in Surkhet.

Women as well as teenage girls live in perpetual fear of attacks by sexually frustrated predators in lonely alleys and isolated rural areas. Parents remain anxious when their girls go to schools, colleges and workplaces. They constantly worry about their well-being.

Strangely, social activists are busy campaigning and advocating for women’s safety and rights while gruesome incidents of rape and sexual harassment of girls and women continue Nepalese society. 

To find solutions, women rights activists, academia and students discussed these issues at an event hosted by the Tribhuvan University’s ‘MA in Gender Studies Programme’ at Orchid International College on Sunday.

TU Professor Dr Mira Mishra said, “Rape is always calculated”. Rapists seek an ‘appropriate chance’ to rape. Rejecting research works that link acts of rape with mental illness of perpetrators, she said it is intentional and conscious act. 

Mishra relates rape to power, subjugation, subordination and objectification of women by men who do not value justice, freedom, independence and equal rights of women. 

“Rape is not a sexual act as claimed by some people,” she asserted. Victims often live with rage, post-rape trauma and social stigma.

Nepal Police Senior Superintendent of Nepal Police, Chandra Kumar Khapung concurred with Dr Mishra that rapes have links to power and domination. He believes deeply rooted patriarchy prevailing in society for ages as the cause of all sorts of violence and rape.

“If women are powerful, perhaps, they would not fall prey to sexual violence,” Khapung said. Women rights activist Sharu Joshi Shrestha urged more discussions and pressed for intensifying activism against rape. “Rape is rape and it cannot be redefined. The perpetrators have no excuse.” 

She advocates naming and shaming rapists. Law should hold the perpetrator responsible for committing the crime. The onus of proving innocence rests on the rapist and not the victim. Give forums to rape victims to share their ordeals and spread awareness, she said.

Reports of horrifying rapes worry her, said one participant. She remains in constant fear about the safety of her nine-year-old daughter following the shocking rape of a seven-year-old girl in Parsa last month, she said. 

Amit Timilsina, pursuing Master’s degree in Gender Studies, said he feels the pain and anguish of women raped and battered by their assailants. He urged men to challenge 83-year-old author and activist Brownmiller’s notion of fear, and help to creating a just and peaceful society by ending all violence against women. 

Khapung told the gathering that police interrogation of rapists revealed various reasons that provoked them to commit the crime. They include domination, control, revenge, ego, negative influence of social media and the Internet, sexual lust, drugs and alcohol abuse, men who assume women who wear short skirts or reveal 

their cleavage are an invitation for sex, and psychological disorders.

Data on crimes against women and children over the last 21 years shows 112 rape cases filed in year 053-54 BS. This number jumped to 1,130 in 072-73 BS. Khapung said police had registered these cases. In reality, over 60 percent of victims do not report the crime.

Bishnu Waiba, an MA Gender Studies student from Makwanpur, said, “Although supporting Brownmiller’s idea is not justifiable, it is a fact that women do not feel safe while walking a lonely street at night. The fear of attacks prevails”.

TU Professor Bindu Pokhrel referred to gender and development expert Dr Chandra Bhadra’s Op-ed article ‘Rage Against Rape’ published by the Kathmandu Post in 2015,  and said “rape is an invasion upon women’s body and soul; it kills our souls and spoils our lives”. 

She advocated punitive action against rapists and awareness campaigns to check this social ill so that women could live with dignity and without any fear of rape.

Published: 05-04-2018 08:35

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