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65 percent of sexual abuse victims are minor girls

65 percent of sexual abuse victims are minor girls

Case 1 

Manisha Ruchal (15) was found dead in Shantipur of Chandrakot-4, Gulmi, on November 3. Police investigation concluded that the girl had been murdered after rape. Rahish Khan (23), a teacher at local Madarasa, was arrested in connection with the incident.

Case 2 

An 11-year-old girl was raped in Nijgad-12, Bara, on October 2. Police arrested Som Bahadur Lungwa (60) for committing the crime. In another disturbing case, a seven-year-old girl was raped in Gausala-5, Mahottari, on November 23. She had been raped by Jugal Kishor Sah, her school teacher.

Data provided by the Nepal Police headquarters shows that a staggering 64.22 percent of sexual violence victims across the country are minor girls. Most of these girls are in the 11-16 age group. Out of the 3,510 reported cases of sexual violence in 2022/23, 1,386 involved child victims, including 13 boys and 1,370 girls. Nine girls lost their lives.

Data also shows that 83.15 percent of sexual violence against children is committed by close acquaintances and relatives. Sexual violence encompasses various crimes such as rape, child sexual abuse, unnatural sex, kidnapping, and forced killing.

Inspector General of Nepal Police Basanta Kunwar says that the alarming number of child victims in sexual assault cases reflects the grim reality of society. “It is quite disturbing that the perpetrators are often known to the victims—acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, or teachers.”

He calls for a collective effort from society to protect minors.

Senior Superintendent of Police Dr. Manoj KC says the escalating cases of crimes against children indicate a breakdown in societal trust. 

“The figures lay bare the sorry state of our society. It is imperative that we unite to protect our children,” he says.

Police data also show that 78.82 percent of cases of gender violence are related to domestic violence. About a quarter of these cases were registered in Madhes Province. Out of 17,000 cases of domestic violence registered in 2022/23, 4,473 cases were registered in Madhes. Similarly, 3,058 cases were registered in Kathmandu Valley.

As Nepal observes 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, stakeholders have expressed deep concern over children being targeted by family members and acquaintances. 

Superintendent of Police Ranju Sigdel of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens Service Directorate of Nepal Police expresses deep concern about the alarming rise in cases of gender-based violence against women and children. 

“The data indicates that up to six children are falling victim to sexual abuse every day. Given that a majority of perpetrators in these cases are relatives and acquaintances, parents must exercise utmost vigilance,” she says. “We are talking about only the cases that have been reported. There could be many unreported cases.”

Under Secretary at the National Human Rights Commission Nitu Gartaula blames the police for not taking the cases involving women and children seriously. She cites instances where police refused to register complaints, attempted to weaken, or mediate out-of-court settlement in a heinous crime like sexual assault.

Inspector General Kunwar, however, claims that the police has adopted zero-tolerance policy in sexual violence cases. 

“This policy requires a prompt response from police chiefs who must report incidents to higher authorities within 12 hours,” he says. “Even senior officers are not exempt from consequences, as evidenced by the recent resignation of Senior Superintendent of Police Yog Bahadur Pal, who faced investigation for sexually abusing a junior female officer.”

Sharmila Paudel, under secretary at the Department of Health Services, stresses the importance of open discussions about sex in families to address the challenges faced by teenagers and children. 

“Suppressing, hiding, or settling cases without reporting to the police could lead to mental trauma for the victims,” she says.