KATHMANDU: Ironically, small children find themselves unsafe in their own homes. The way the incidence of domestic violence in general and the sexual violence against the children, in particular, are increasing, it seems the saviors have turned into perpetrators.
The hapless child is unable to figure out when the smiling face that seems loving turns devilish and ruins them.
Neither the parents can read out the attitude of the perpetrators. What’s more, despite various programs and formalities against gender-based violence, the instances of violence are on the rise.
Considering the statistics of violent incidents across the country, one concludes that most of the perpetrators of sexual violence against the girls are elderly relatives and acquaintances.
The irate relatives of the victims and the members of civil society often demand the amendment of the constitution and introduce the provision of the death penalty against rapists.
In an attempt to raise awareness about the incidents of child rape and demanding the end of all sorts of gender-based violence, various programs are organized in the country, yet the social critics are skeptical about the deemed output from them.
Incidents of violence increasing every year
The statistics at Nepal Police show the increase in the instances of violence against women and the sexual abuses of women and children since the fiscal year 2016/17 to 2019/20.
The statistics show that as many as 4,041 girls have been raped in the last four years.
According to the statistics, 655 girls were raped in the fiscal year2016/17 which rose to 851 in the succeeding year 2017/18.
Similarly, it climbed to 1,042 in the fiscal year 2018/19. In the last fiscal year i.e. in 2019/20, the number reached 1,393 making it the highest in the past four years.
Most of the victims are girls between 11-16 years
The statistics reveal that there had been 273 rape cases in the girls below ten years in the last fiscal year alone.
Similarly, 801 girls between the ages of 11 and 16 and 319 girls between the ages of 17 and 18 were subjected to sexual violence in the same year. Thus, the data reveal that most of the victims are girls aged 11 to 16.
Cases increasing due to lack of consciousness: Police Spokesperson
SSP Kuber Kadayat, the spokesperson of Nepal Police says that the cause of the increase in such heinous crimes is the lack of awareness.
He claims that various awareness programs have been launched to sensitize people about the role they can and have to play to eliminate such crimes from society.
“Nepal Police, in collaboration with various local organizations and local bodies, has been launching various awareness programs in the valley and across the country to sensitize people about the instances of sexual abuse and the measures each individual and the community can play to mitigate such criminal activities,” SSP Kadayat told Khabarhub, “Nepal Police have been conducting many awareness programs on its own as well.”
He revealed that bases on the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, girls are being raped by neighbors, teachers, their relatives and homeowners.
He reiterates that the prime issue is to change the mentality of the people as the main reason behind the increase in such heinous crimes is lack of awareness.
“Mostly, the girls are not strong enough to speak up the problems they have been facing which make them vulnerable even from their relatives and acquaintances, hence, the parents and other conscious guardians should understand their psychology and bring rape and abuse to justice,” SSP Kadayat added ahead.
Legal provision regarding punishment
The criminal code of Nepal regards rape as sexual intercourse with an unmarried girl, a widow, or someone’s wife less than eighteen years of age with or without her consent by using force or showing threats or even under the inappropriate influence.
Chapter 18 of the Criminal Code 2017 has provisions relating to sexual offenses.
Clause 220 (2, C) of the Criminal Code 2017 says that there will be a sentence of imprisonment for a term of three to six years and a fine of thirty thousand to sixty thousand rupees in the case of sexual intercourse between grand-mother and her grand-son or great-grand-son within the three generations of the same branch, between father’s elder brother or uncle and niece within the same branch, between nephew and great mother (wife of own father’s brother) or aunty within the same branch, between father-in-law and brother’s daughter-in-law within the same branch, between uterine maternal uncle and niece or nephew and maternal aunty, between mother’s elder sister or younger sister and nephew or between mother-in-law (one’s wife side) and son-in-law.
Clause 219 (3) of the Criminal Code 2017 has a different provision of punishment to criminal according to the age of the victim:
It says: A person who commits rape shall be liable to the sentence of imprisonment as follows, having regard to the circumstances of such sexual intercourse and the age of woman:
(a) Imprisonment for a term of sixteen to twenty years, if she is a girl child below ten years of age,
(b) Imprisonment for a term of fourteen to sixteen years, if she is a girl child who is ten years or above ten years of age but below fourteen years of age,
(c) Imprisonment for a term of twelve to fourteen years, if she is a girl child who is fourteen or above fourteen years of age but below sixteen years of age,
(d) Imprisonment for a term of ten to twelve years, if the woman is sixteen or above sixteen years of age but below eighteen years of age,
(e) Imprisonment for a term of seven to ten years, if the woman is eighteen or above eighteen years of age.
If we consider the criminal records of the past four years we find that 65% of the victims of sexual violence are minors.
16-Day Campaign is for generating awareness: Ministry
As an attempt to curb the increasing instances of gender-based violence, the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens has been launching a 16-day campaign against gender-based violence from November 25 to December 10 every year.
Despite the campaign, the incidence of violence has not gone down. The number of complaints lodged at various service centers and commissions set up to address such issues is increasing as well.
What is the Ministry doing to curb heinous crimes?
When asked about the ministry’s initiatives to curb the heinous crime like rape, Roshani Devi Karki, the Under Secretary at the Ministry told Khabarhub that the government has understood it pretty well it is challenging to eradicate such violence due to the old and patriarchal mindset in the society, hence, the focus has been on the social awareness together with the strict enforcement of the laws.
“First of all we should aware the people about such heinous crime,” she told Khabarhub, “Eradicating such violence is a big challenge due to the patriarchal society and old mindset.”
Although the National Penal (Code)Act 2017 has the provision of imprisonment and monetary punishment, the victims still feel deprived of justice.
After adopting the federal form of governance, its high time for local and provincial governments to plan and work out to mitigate and eradicate such criminal offenses from society.
The indifference of the government and lack of cooperation from the public has increased the incidence of sexual offenses.