Kathmandu, December 27
The latest data from Nepal Police show that the number of reported rape cases continues to soar despite stringent laws in the country.
In the first five months of the current fiscal alone, police dealt with as many 768 rape cases, which boils down to an average of five incidents daily. A total of 1,480 rape cases were reported last fiscal against 1,138 in 2016-17. If we compare the crime rate of the first five months of this fiscal with the annual data of last fiscal, rape cases are likely to hit new high in 2018-19.
There is an increase in the cases of reported rape, while conviction rate is low. Nepal Police recorded 1,138 cases of rape and filed as many charge-sheets against 1,440 suspects at the concerned district courts in 2016-17. Of them, only 885 persons were convicted as mentioned in the annual report of the Office of the Attorney General. Police said low conviction rate was giving rise to the crime.
As per police reports, victims are often threatened, lured and given false promise of marriage after rape. Rape victims generally fall in the age group of 10 to 50 years. Mobile population, misuse of the Internet and social networking sites, and poor implementation of laws are attributed to increasing incidents of rape in Kathmandu. Many cases go unreported as victims are often too scared to come forward to lodge complaints of rape due to fear of retribution and social stigma.
The perpetrators include family members, neighbours, relatives and strangers, among others. Most of the rape victims were under-age girls. Senior Superintendent of Police Uttam Raj Subedi, Nepal Police spokesperson, said the security agency was conducting Community-Police Partnership campaign in the fight against crimes and hence it could help the vulnerable groups resist and bring to light any form of sexual violence against them, be it at home or outside.
According to a report of the National Human Rights Commission, lack of effective investigation and prosecution on behalf of the victims of heinous crimes like rape is likely to weaken the legal side of such cases, increase possibility of destroying evidences, force the victims and their kin to reconcile with perpetrators due to fear of social boycott and deprive the victims of justice.
The constitution stipulates maximum punishment to perpetrators of sexual violence as per the existing laws and reasonable compensation to the victims. A recent study conducted by the rights body had shown that violence against women and children was among the key security problems in the country. Therefore, the NHRC has been closely watching the role of Nepal Police in minimising VAW and upholding human rights.
Police attribute the increase in reported rape cases to more women coming forward due to greater public awareness but say that many more cases go unreported, as victims are often too scared to come forward to lodge complaints of rape due to the fear of retribution and social stigma.
A version of this article appears in print on December 28, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.