April 27, 2018 Philip Holmes

ChoraChori supports child rape victim

ChoraChori supports child rape victim

ChoraChori has admitted a victim of child rape to our child trauma management centre in Kathmandu. We will support this child and her family, while making every effort to bring her assailant to justice.

Last evening 12 year old Anita (not her real name) and her family came to our trauma centre along with her parents and social activist Sabitri Subedi. In recent weeks we have been working closely with Sabitri as she fights for the rights of girls who have been victim of sexual violence on Nepal’s southern plains. Anita, who comes from a village in Sarlahi District (circled) is one such victim; she was raped last weekend. The scenario is all too familiar as child rape is very common in remote areas of Nepal. Often the assailant is a family member but on this occasion the alleged assailant is a very wealthy and influential man within the District.

Anita comes from a Dalit (“untouchable”) family who speak only Maithili, the language of an ethnic community that lives in Sarlahi and in Bihar, north India. The family is very poor with the father working away from home as a rickshaw driver in Birgunj. Last Sunday evening her mother travelled to Birgunj to meet her husband while Anita remained at home with her brother. In what appears to have been a premeditated attack, a friend of the accused called at Anita’s home and invited her brother to go for a short walk. As soon as they were gone the alleged assailant abducted Anita and raped her in a nearby field. Anita fainted. After she recovered consciousness she made her way back to her hut, bleeding profusely. When her brother returned to find his sister covered in blood he immediately called their parents who rushed back to the village, arriving on Monday morning. They filed a complaint at the local police station and then took Anita to a local health post for treatment as she was still bleeding.

The accused is also a Dalit, however he is rich and powerful man in the District. He has been missing since the incident. On returning to the village with their daughter locals tried to convince the family to drop the case and accept a large settlement (50 lakh rupees – £33k), however Anita’s father was adamant that they would not accept the money. Local politicians and villagers then began to put pressure on the family to resolve the issue through a local panchayat (assembly), arguing that it should be resolved within the village and that it would not help the family if news of the case spread further afield.

After reaching the village Sabitri spoke to the family and was approached by the police, officials and villagers who, on assuming that she was a representative of an NGO in Kathmandu, proceeded to offer her 5 lakh (£3k) if she could convince the family to accept the ‘compensation’ and drop the case. Sabitri felt that under these circumstances it would be impossible for the family to get legal justice from the village. The family were also feeling very threatened and vulnerable as the village is very isolated, being 5 kilometres walk from the nearest town. Therefore she decided that it would be best for Anita and her family if they were to leave the village in secret. They did so yesterday morning and arrived at our centre in the evening.

Today ChoraChori will be approaching police headquarters in Kathmandu to explain the situation and file a formal complaint. In our experience the police in Kathmandu are much better at prosecuting cases properly. The assailant – and his accomplice – cannot be allowed to escape justice through bribery, informal “settlement” and cover up. Meantime we will provide Anita with all the professional support she needs at our residential centre, through our staff psychosocial counsellor, Sailu Rajbhandari.

 

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