Kathmandu, August 3
The number of women and girls filing rape cases with police has increased by more than 50 per cent in fiscal 2018-19.
Activists and police said more girls and women had started coming forward to file rape cases with police.
Growing awareness about sexual rights, education for girls and women and economic freedom, among other factors, encouraged girls and women to file rape cases against perpetrators.
As many as 2,233 cases of rape were reported to police in the fiscal 2018-19, which is significantly higher than 1,480 rape cases reported in fiscal 2017-18. The number was even less in fiscal 2016- 17, when only 1,137 rape cases were reported.
Similarly, the number of rape cases reported during the preceding years was also drastically low.
A total of 981 rape cases were filed in fiscal 2015-16, 912 in 2014-15 and 677 in 2013-14.
Exactly 15 years ago police had recorded only 154 rape cases throughout the country.
Superintendent of Police Shyam Lal Gyanwali at Metropolitan Police Office, Rani Pokhari, said increase in the number of rape cases is due to awareness among women who have become more conscious about reporting the crime.
“Time has changed and women no longer want to hide rape cases or reconcile with perpetrators.” Rita Sah, a women rights activist and civil society member said, adding that rising level of awareness among women and girls backed by their academic qualification had enabled them to file complaints against rape.
Similarly, support from various organisations that work for women and girls had encouraged girls and women to reach out to police.
“Despite the ising number of rape victims filing complaint with the police, many girls and women still hide the crime due to the social stigma attached to it and the administrative hurdles they have to face while filing complaint.”
Sah said changing the mindset of society might take some time, so police needed to be more women-friendly and sensitive while registering rape case.
“A rape case must be filed in the presence of a health worker, lawyer and police officials to effectively bring the perpetrator behind bars and to save the victim’s rights to privacy,” Sah added, Dhana Kumari Sunar, a woman activist and former member of the National Women Commission, said more women filing rape cases was a progressive sign and women in Nepali society were breaking free from the clutches of patriarchy.
“Rape itself is a very bad thing, but it is a good thing that many women have started reporting cases to the authorities,” said Sunar, adding that majority of rape perpetrators were either seniors from within the family or from among relatives of the victim.
“Rape victims are reluctant to report the incident as they fear social stigma. “We need an effective system to encourage such victims to speak up against the perpetrators,” said Sah.
Police, however, failed to nab 55 rape-accused persons in fiscal 2018-19 and 144 rape accused in fiscal 2017-18.
According to a report issued by Women’s Rehabilitation Centre, nearly 70 per cent victims of rape and rape attempts are minors between the age of five and 16.
Most of the incidents of rape and rape attempts were perpetrated by family members, close relatives and acquaintances, the report states.
A version of this article appears in print on August 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.