On July 1, 11-year-old Kanchan Kumari Panjiyar was raped and murdered in Janakpurdham in eastern Tarai. An Indian national was arrested for the crime.
In July 2018, 13-year-old Nirmala Panta of Kanchanpur, a far-western district, was raped and murdered. The culprit is yet to be found.
In July last year, 9-year-old Elisha Tamang was raped and murdered in Kavre district east of Kathmandu. Police arrested three culprits and started legal action.
In February 2018, a 12-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Rupandehi district in central Tarai. The culprit was arrested and sent to jail.
In March 2012, 14-year-old Puja Bohara of far-western Baitadi district was gang-raped while she was preparing to appear in the SLC exams. It took eight years for the two culprits to be convicted.
These are some incidents from the past few years that show the vulnerability of young girls to serious forms of sexual violence. Nepal Police have recorded an increasing number of rape cases over the past few years. And when the victims are minors, there is also the risk of murder, as we see from these incidents.
As per Nepal Police, 1,945 cases of rape were recorded in the past fiscal 2019/20. The number was 981 in 2014/15, which climbed to 1,093, 1,137, 1,480, and over 1,500 cases in fiscals 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, and 2018/19, respectively. The three-month July-September period last year had the highest record of 591 rape cases, of which 368 victims were minors.
The police have divided the cases into six categories: isolated incidents of rape, rape after human trafficking, rape after kidnapping, rape and murder, murder attempt after rape, and rape after child marriage. Most perpetrators are close relatives or acquaintances.
During the lockdown, 155 cases of rape have been recorded with the highest number (37) recorded in Province 5. There were seven such cases in Kathmandu. Most of these incidents occurred in quarantine facilities.
The graph rises
Senior advocate Lava Kumar Mainali, who specializes in criminal law, says sexual offenses also happened in the past but are now being reported more frequently. “In the past, the rich, powerful, and landlords used to be the perpetrators.” He reckons fake complaints may also be the cause for the rising number of reported rape cases.
Niraj Bahadur Shahi, Nepal Police Spokesperson, says the perpetrators come from uneducated and low-income backgrounds in most rape cases. They choose minors as victims because they find it easier to take them under control and use force.
Psychologist Karuna Kunwar says most perpetrators are those with psychosexual disorders. “Often the perpetrators are close relatives. They may choose minors thinking that they could silence them with simple threats. And they don’t need to use much force.”
Besides, a victim of sexual violence is also likely to grow up to be an offender himself. According to her, sometimes the motive is to take revenge, sometimes it’s just compulsive desire, and sometimes the perpetrators are mentally ill. She reckons weak law enforcement encourages the perpetrators.