Too few to be true

Along with the rise in the number of rape-related cases in Nepal, the trend of filing an FIR is catching up equally fast. But the police have been unable to win most of the court cases. A Nepal Police study reveals that the police, as a prosecutor, have lost over 50 per cent of the rape cases filed in 2005-06, including partial successes. But only about 25 per cent cases can be rated as clear successes — 107 out of 432 cases. There are cases when those convicted of rape by the district courts have been acquitted by the higher courts. This raises doubts about not only the quality of the police’s investigation, but also the higher courts’ credentials to dispense justice.

Nepal Police need to do much more to base its prosecution on solid ground. This is a reflection on the evidence-gathering process that has to be augmented by expert services and the sense of security of the eye-witnesses. Of equal concern is the vulnerability of the police personnel to enticements and non-professional considerations. To lose the case is tantamount to being unfair to the rape victims who are mostly below the age of 15 and hardly ever receive any kind of compensation. Rape laws should be reviewed and the phrase ‘sex with consent’ needs to be redefined so that the guilty is unable to take advantage of the legal loopholes. Many victims do not even report the outrage for fear of shame and stigma. It’s about time that those in the judiciary, too, saw to it that the innocents are not ignored and dismissed to shame and indignity for the rest of their lives.