Many wartime rape victims have no access to justice

Kathmandu, June 19

It has been more than a decade since the Maoist insurgency ended  in the country, but the female victims of sexual harassment, assault, rape and atrocities have  still not got justice. These women have not yet recovered from the psychological trauma they went through during that period and some of them have even fallen prey to depression.

Fifty-six-year-old Urmila (name changed) from Kalikot lost her dignity when she was physically tortured and raped by a group of men 18 years ago during the Maoist insurgency. Her daughter lost her life in an attempt to save her. The incident has scarred her heart and mind.

Urmila didn’t want to share this incident with anyone because of the social stigma. She wanted to knock on the doors of the court for justice but she couldn’t. She shared, “I was tied to a bamboo pole and tortured physically and then I was raped. They even raped my daughter, who later succumbed.

”Since then, Urmila has been under medication for depression and is compelled to live with physical deformity. After the incident she even had to leave her village Kalikot and migrate to Surkhet.

Chandra (name changed) of Jhapa  also said she was raped by Nepali Army personnel during the insurgency period. She was also hesitant to share the incident. She said she had been fighting for 10 long years for justice. She said, “I went to the court with all the evidence but I was not given justice. I asked help from different governmental and non-governmental organisations but they too couldn’t help me.”

According to Chandra, she was taken to jail four times during the insurgency period and had to remain in police custody for more than three months. “Police accused me of being a Maoist. In the year 2005, when I was in jail they applied superglue to my eyes. Later, I had to go to India for treatment.”

“There are nearly 9,000 single women who lost their husband, family and identity during the insurgency period. The government has still not collected the exact data of such women. These are only some of the cases where the victims have openly shared their pain, but the truth is there are many more such victims, who do not dare to talk about rape cases fearing social stigma.

The government should find out such cases and give justice to those female victims as soon as possible,”said Rajin Rayamajhi, an advocate and woman activist.