Victim needs emotional support, counselling

Kathmandu, October 2

Ever since Roshani Shahi, a nurse at the Parliament Secretariat, accused Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who has since resigned as speaker of the House of Representatives, of raping her, all eyes have been on the alleged perpetrator.

It’s time to turn the attention to the victim, as the incident can have devastating psychological impact on her and prompt her to take extreme decisions, like committing suicide, psychiatrists have said.

Rape victims often feel vulnerable and helpless and live in fear, which lower their self-esteem. There is also social stigma associated with the trauma. “These are the reasons why Shahi needs immediate emotional support and counselling,” said Nishita Pathak, a neuropsychiatrist at Alka Hospital.

THT could not contact Shahi despite several attempts. “But as far as we know she has not received any psychiatric support [to deal with the ordeal],” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Hobindra Bogati, who is also the spokesperson for the Metropolitan Crime Range of Nepal Police, which is providing security to Shahi.

Shahi suffers from depression and is under medication, according to her video interviews with online portals. She has also attempted to commit suicide in the past.

Her history depicts her as a vulnerable person, who needs help immediately to overcome anxiety and cope with painful memories, said Ritesh Thapa, consultant neuropsychiatrist at Rhythm Neuropsychiatry Hospital and Research Centre. If precautionary measures are not taken immediately, possibilities of her depression worsening cannot be ruled out, which may push her to the verge of committing suicide, said Pathak.

Depression is a common kind of mental illness where a patient feels sad persistently, experiences loss of energy, feels fatigued, and loses interest in activities once enjoyed. A patient suffering from depression also cannot sleep or sleeps too much, loses or gains weight, cannot take decisions and gets thoughts of death or suicide frequently.

“A person suffering from psychiatric disorder should not be harassed. Instead, the victim should be encouraged to undergo psychiatric counselling, as an emotionally unstable person can harm herself or others,” said Thapa. “The victim should also be given medical support as there are chances of her becoming impulsive.”