The Big Give 2018

For the third successive year ChoraChori is taking part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge, our major annual fundraising drive.

At ChoraChori we began thinking about Christmas in June, searching for Trusts, corporates and individuals who’d be willing to make matching pledges towards this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge. And we were very successful, building a “pot” of £30,000 ready to match online donations from supporters this week. The Challenge started today at noon and runs until noon on the 4th December during which time we hope to meet our overall target of £60,000 through the powerful incentive of gifts automatically doubling in value. These are funds that we so badly need to continue our child rescue and rehabilitation work in 2019, including providing support to child rape victims and their families.

This year the charity is benefiting from an online appeal by Nepalese-Ukrainian actress Amrita Acharia. Amrita, has Amrita Acharia, Nepal, ChoraChoriacted in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, UK TV series “The Good Karma Hospital”, the Norwegian TV series “Acquitted” and in the forthcoming animation “The Missing Link”. She has been very ready to provide her support to a charity and a cause that are very close to her heart. Amrita says “One of the biggest things that gave me the chance to pursue my career was the fact my father was educated, and he made sure we were educated and taught self-respect. When we moved away from Nepal, it was the fruit of the education that gave us stability and the chance to follow our dreams in less stable careers. I love it that ChoraChori works on empowering young girls after these experiences and gives them tools rather than just rescuing and dumping them in an orphanage”.

Amrita was born in Kathmandu but her family moved to England when she was six years old. She spent some of her early life in the Ukraine and attended High School in Norway where her father is an Obstetrician. Amrita is now looking forward to a long overdue return visit to Nepal at Christmas – her first in 16 years. In Kathmandu she’ll be joined by ChoraChori’s Founder, Lt Col Philip Holmes, for a New Year visit to ChoraChori’s facilities in Thaukel.

To see Amrita’s appeal and double your money in a gift to ChoraChori just click on the image!

 

Community-based care in Nepal?

ChoraChori’s field team has rescued a child rape victim who was failed by family and community in east Nepal.

The 12 year old girl pictured left is from Phidim, the principal town of Panchthar District. Her miserable life stands in stark contrast to the dramatic natural beauty of Nepal’s most eastern District. She is homeless because, although her mother is alive and well, she is unwelcome at her step-father’s home. Therefore she has been wandering around the community, surviving by taking on domestic chores in return for food and shelter, her overnight accommodation being often nothing more than cow-sheds.

Panchthar lies within Nepal’s Province No 1, the Province with the highest rates of reported rape at 8.5 per 100,000 of population in the period July 17 to June 18. ChoraChori is currently analysing why this should be so, but in the meantime we are dealing with the consequences.

Tragically, this little girl became one of the statistics from last year. Her rapist has already been convicted and we will fight for him to remain in jail should this come to an appeal. But meantime we are working with the village authority to allow her transfer into our care in Kathmandu. She is of course severely traumatised by her experiences and we will need to manage the trauma as well as offer her a place of safety at our refuge.

So often we hear from respected authorities that children belong with families and communities. It’s not as easy as that in remote parts of Nepal and clearly in this case that arrangement has failed with such dire consequences; it is time for us to intervene and protect this child properly.

Next week you have an opportunity to do something to help this girl and the many others that ChoraChori has rescued. You can join me in making a donation towards our work through The Big Give Christmas Challenge through which all online donations will automatically be doubled in value. Please don’t donate now. If you leave us your e mail address here we will send you a reminder when the Appeal goes live.

Thank you.

No justice for child rape victims in Nepal – quite the opposite

Child rape victim betrayed in Nepal

After she was raped Radhika (name changed) sought support from village elders. It is hard to comprehend the decision that the elders took, supporting the rapist rather than the victim.

At the end of last month 15 year old Radhika felt very happy as she was returning home from a marriage ceremony. It had been a lovely celebration. In life, she had a great deal to look forward to, having just completed her grade 10 examinations. But as she was about to enter her house she was grabbed by a man who dragged her off to a nearby field. Stifling her cries for help with her shawl, he raped her three times.  No one heard the commotion as others had gone to the wedding too. It was only when Radhika’s eleven year old brother came looking for her that her assailant ran off. Radhika’s parents were away at the time as her mother was having an operation. So for five days she didn’t have their support and was too frightened to tell anyone what had happened. Eventually she confided in an aunt.

After his return, the girl’s father appealed for justice to the all-male “panchayat“, the village assembly. After three days the panchayat ruled unanimously that Radhika should marry her attacker. The committee members reasoned that there was no alternative as no one else would want to marry a rape victim and, conveniently, both victim and assailant were single. Worse still, Radhika’s father would have to pay her attacker a dowry of 300,000 rupees (£2,000), negotiated down by her father from an original suggestion of 500,000 rupees. The father felt that he had no alternative but to comply with the ruling for fear of being thrown out of the village.

Radhika’s family are not well-off – her father sells cosmetics from a roadside stall. He asked his neighbours for a loan but few would help him. In the end he had to sell his land to raise the dowry. A date of 12th May was set for the wedding with the father due to pay the rapist four days beforehand. However when he went to the rapist’s home he found that both he and his father had gone missing. At this point he did what he should have done in the first place and went to the police, filing a formal complaint against his daughter’s attacker. He also contacted the local media, telling them “I have been belittled by everyone because I am poor. They didn’t allow me to make decisions and I had to agree to what they said. But now I will not tolerate this and I will fight for my daughter’s rights. I need everyone’s help in this.”

In this case, “everyone” has included ChoraChori in Nepal. As it is too dangerous for Radhika to remain in her own village (witnesses to crime can go missing), we have admitted her to our refuge in Kathmandu where she is receiving support through our child trauma management centre. We will do all that we can to track down her assailant and bring him to justice. The panchayat has realised its mistake in that it should not have ruled on a criminal case and has promised to support us in finding the attacker. Meantime Radhika can stay with us for as long as is necessary and we will ensure that she has a chance to complete her education.

Radhika is the third child rape victim that we have admitted to our refuge in the past three weeks. We are investigating the circumstances of nine other cases, one of whom is an eight month old baby. Last week a ChoraChori field team successfully disrupted a child marriage ceremony that was being rushed through with an £800 dowry. And the next day directed the police to arrest another child rapist who had returned from India, thinking it was safe to do so.

If you would like to join us in helping Radhika and her family, please donate using the button below – and share. Thank you.

donate to ChoraChori

 

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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