BAJURA, July 25 Twenty-year-old Rama (name changed) of Manakot, Bajura, became pregnant after she was raped by a local youth. She then approached District Women and Children Office to seek justice. Village leaders and rights activists then made the rapist pay Rs 60,000 to the victim in the name of justice. The perpetrator then walked free. The illiterate girl, devastated by what had happened to her, thought of committing suicide. Her kin too were for accepting the money as compensation. Dhansara (name changed) from northern Bajura too was sexually assaulted about a month ago. She was forced to accept Rs 70,000 in compensation and keep quiet. Similarly, a youth in Bajura took a girl hostage from Achham for four days and sexually abused her frequently over the days. But, the perpetrator paid her Rs 15,000. These are few cases that highlight how women and girls in the remote parts of the country are falling victims to sexual abuse. Cases are being hushed up by paying a few thousand rupees to victims, who have to suffer whole of their life. Majority of cases related to violence against women and girls in the entire far-west region are being settled like this, which is a major cause for concern, said DSP Shyam Poudel of District Police Office, Bajura. Most of the cases do not even reach us, he added. “I have heard that most of cases related to violence against women here are arbitrated in the village itself simply by paying some thousand rupees to victims,” he said, adding that the practice is highly unacceptable and that the perpetrators of VAW and sexual abuse must be brought to book as per the law of the land. “Such cases in which the government acts as the plaintiff cannot be settled like this, but the way the cases are being settled here is worrisome,” said Rajendra Kumar Acharya of District Court, Bajura. “Such practice exposes the victims and others to further risk and encourages perpetrators to repeat the offence,” said Acharya, adding settling cases outside the court is against the law. As per the official data maintained by the court, there were only three VAW cases filed in the last fiscal, which highlights need of massive awareness campaigns in the region.