Rights groups seek probe into rape case

Kathmandu, October 3

Women’s and human rights organisations have called on the National Human Rights Commission and the National Women’s Commission to immediately investigate the rape case surrounding Krishna Bahadur Mahara and reveal the truth.

The call was jointly made by 17 organisations working in the areas of women’s rights and human rights. It came three days after Roshani Shahi, an employee of the Parliament Secretariat, told hamrakura.com that she was indiscriminately beaten and raped by Mahara, who was House speaker at that time. The statement given by Shahi compelled Mahara to step down. But hours after Mahara tendered his resignation, Shahi did a volte-face and told another online portal that she was never raped by Mahara.

“The contradictory statements given by the victim in a short span should be a matter of investigation. There are chances that she might have changed her statement under pressure or fearing her own and her family’s safety, as the person involved in this case is a high-profile political figure,” reads a joint statement issued today by 17 non-governmental organisations, adding, “The government should take this issue seriously ... and direct the concerned bodies to treat Mahara as a civilian in this case ... as everyone is equal in the eyes of law.”

Nepal has expressed commitment to uphold human rights in international treaties and conventions. Nepal is also a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. “We, therefore, request the government to safeguard the country’s image and fulfil its responsibility towards the citizen. The decisions that the government takes to deliver justice should be exemplary in the international arena as well. We request the government to practically implement its zero-tolerance policy against violence,” reads the statement.

The organisations have also requested the government to guarantee safety of the victim as she herself is the evidence in this case and a witness of the incident as well. The group has also asked the government to take stern action against those who try to crush her self-esteem.