Nepali Times
Rape for ransom


GETTING AWAY WITH IT: A 13-year-old girl in Mahottari who was raped at knife-point by a neighbour recovers in hospital. Police said this was a "normal" case.
Sexual violence against women in the eastern Tarai districts has reached epidemic levels because perpetrators don't just go scot free, but are often rewarded for their crime.

Two years ago in Mahottari, a young woman was forced into a sugarcane field and raped by Farmud Ansari and Murduj Ansari. They were caught, but instead of punishing both of them, locals padlocked the girl's house and expelled her from the village for having "corrupted" local youth. After seeking help from police and political leaders, the girl got a compensation of Rs 40,000, half of which was taken by the mediating all-party leaders as a donation for their 'community development fund'.

The local representatives of the TMLP, Maoists, NC, Madhesi Forum and UML all signed the agreement for compensation in the presence of the head of the Women's Cell of the local police. And as a 'reward', the locals tried to force the girl to marry one of the men. Mahottari's police chief said: "The best alternative was to allow the victim to re-assimilate herself in society."

Another young woman from Laxmipur of Rautahat was forced to marry her rapist, Sagar Darji, under pressure from the local administration and civil society organisations, including gender rights activists. Police chief Pradip Kandel said: "It is not possible to deliver justice in all rape cases.Sometimes we need to find an alternative mechanism."

'Alternative mechanism' has now become an euphemism for letting rapists to not just get away with their crime, but actually take the rape victim home with them. And the most outrageous aspect of this is that it is aided and abetted by local politicians, police and even human rights activists.

"The rapists who come from powerful families never get punished, the victims who are poor never get justice because the police themselves work to cover up the crime and work out an arrangement," says civil society activist, Madan Jha. Other activists say rape is not a sexual crime, but projects violence and power deeply-rooted in the Tarai's patriarchy.

Earlier this year, a 17-year-old girl in Mahottari's Bairganiya village was raped by 25-year-old Ranjit Das who also filmed the incident and circulated the minute-long video via mobile and YouTube. When local authorities were informed about the crime, instead of punishing the accused, they collaborated with local bigwigs to force the victim to marry the perpetrator. Das is now in custody, but the video is being sold from phone to phone, and has even reached Nepalis in Qatar and Malaysia.

In August, another 17-year-old girl from the same district was raped by Ahmed Miya, who got his friend to record the act on his mobile phone. By coincidence, a young man from their village saw the video on a phone in Qatar and alerted the girl's family. But instead of arresting the accused, important men in the village forced the girl to marry her rapist.

This agreement between a rapist and his victim's family was mediated by an all-party committee that awarded Rs 40,000 to the victim, but took away half the amount for their 'community development'.
There are many more such incidents which go unreported in the media, and rape for ransom has become a thriving business because of impunity. Many of the victims are minors violated by neighbours, teachers and relatives, but are forced into a settlement.

In many cases, the rapist stands to make a lot of money selling videos of the crime across the border in India, and the spread of mobile phones has made it easier to record and disseminate such explicit material. Many of these sexual predators don't just go scot free, but are rewarded, emboldening criminals who are now killing the victims after raping them.

A 18-year-old girl from Mahottari was gang-raped in broad daylight while carrying water from the communal well recently. "I noticed they were taking a video of me with their phones as I struggled," she recounted to police. She named her rapists as Hajrat Kawari, Dil Mohamad Kawari, Dawud Kawari and Kalmuddin Kawari. Police arrested all of them and took their case to the district police office. But the girl's family withdrew the complaint after powerful locals put pressure on them. "They threatened us, we are poor what can we do? So we withdrew the case," the girl's mother said.

There have been 11 rape cases registered in Rautahat alone in the past year, of which nine have been settled by written agreement after the victim's family was threatened. All 17 rape cases registered at the Women's Cell of Rautahat Police have been suppressed because of local pressure. In Mahottari, there are 16 rape cases that are pending in the courts for the past three years. Because the police have become complicit as mediators, many victims now take their cases to a women's rights group in Jaleswor where there are 37 cases registered.

Earlier this year, a 14-year-old student was found to have been repeatedly raped by her school teacher. When found out, locals and police mediated and forced the teacher to marry his minor victim. Another 13-year-old girl in Mahottari was raped inside her own house by a neighbour, Samsul Nafad, who threatened to kill her if she reported it. The girl's father saved her life by rushing his bleeding daughter to hospital. Even though Nafad was later arrested, Jayanarayan Yadav of the area police post initially dismissed the complaint: "This happens all the time, it's a normal case."

For the complete Nepali version of this piece from the Centre for Investigative Journalism, click here

Read also:
Patriarchy in the political hierarchy, ANURAG ACHARYA
The exclusive behaviour of powerful Madhesi leaders ridicules the inclusion agenda they claim to champion

1. Catrin Froehlich
I have rarely been so upset. When will the women of this country come together and stop that?

2. khem
This is really pitiable , victims are always victimized . this is an example of extreme domination

3. RT
and here we were smugly happy and thankful about how we are not like Delhi the 'rape capital' down south. nothing could be further from the truth. All those horrible things that we read about raped women and girls in India - victim blaming, police apathy, zero protection - are all happening our own backyards. but we are simply too busy talking about four-party consensus  and following the rat race to care.

4. Lina
More shocking to me than the manifestations of power, patriarchy and violence is the collusion of the Big Men in the government, police and parties in hushing up the crimes and rewarding the rapists by presenting them the victim as wives. How insensistive can these men be? The only solution is a carrot and stick approach of education and punishment.

5. Ram Bahadur
I can't believe I live in a country like this. 

6. Shaahil

First education and awareness is a must to the authority figures is a must to control these kind of violent act. Secondly, the same should be applied to the villagers and making sure that each and everyone have their rights to speak out and fight for their rights. There must be some kind of organization who can help these innocent women to protect and provide security at all the times from these kinds of predators. And finally there should be such a law which will provide capital punishment to such a rapists and life imprisonment to all that's involved including the policemen.

7. Flexible 1
There are two articles in this edition of NT both with identical themes; violence against women.
They are both well written, informative and essential pieces of journalism. But their content absolutely disgusts me, in fact it has enraged me to the point of losing sleep and taking two days to calm down and write this response. But my rage is returning as I write!
The questions that keep circulating through my head are all rhetorical, but nevertheless someone must ask them and go beyond the "normal" outrage:
1. How can Nepal as a nation expect to "be a member of the human race" if it allows such acts?
2. When will such acts be punished in a manner which fits the crime with speed and totality?
3. When will the people of Nepal stand up and be counted? If my daughter, sister, wife were violated like this with impunity the criminals would have nowhere on earth to hide from me.
4. When will Dr Bhatterai give this priority instead of digging up roads? What would he do if Hisila were raped?
5. When will DFID honour it's statement in their 2011 Operating Plan which states "we will also focus on reducing violence against women and girls"?
6. When will the international community CEASE all aid NOW with immediate effect until the violence ends?

As a UK citizen, married to a Nepali woman, with children who are half-Nepali, working in Nepal to improve the education of thousands of primary children a year ..... I am beginning to believe that I am actually part of the problem too. Maybe it needs all of us to "walk out", because educating these vile criminals is NOT the answer, but removing them from society IS the answer. And quickly!

8. R A Roka
Hi Nepalitimes, You guys being a press, can;t do something by which maximum Nepali people will be aware about all of these kind of situations or similar like this. A Nepali whenever goes to  other countries, never do this kind of task or in other word other countries local do not let them do these things. But why we Nepali have to get suffered in our own country ??? have u any idea ??? as a press people don't u have a solution to get people know about these things ??? OR ARE YOU NOT A NEPALI ???? 

9. Nepali
I feel disgusted when i read news like this,not just in Nepal but anywhere,i say we chop off their parts and see who dares to do this again,this is the only solution,u cant educated the girl and prevent it,u cant jail the rapist and reduce it. CHOP THEM.

this makes me hate the whole male population, frustrated and upset

10. Prerana D
Would like to help create awareness and raise voice against culprits.  Would appreciate more helping hands.  
I strongly feel that WE should do something about it.... There's no point just complaining about it..... why not instead get together and do something about it!  
May goodness help me in my endeavors! 

11. Rishav
Really shocking.. Why it all seems to be happening in the southern plains. The violence and injustice against women seems alot worse in this part of the country compared to any  where else. Not saying it's great in the rest of the country but this blatant practice is something which is seen in India alot.

The recent bus gang rape delhi incident has only awaken the situation recently in India, perhaps wth the influx of this type of Mentality from the southern neighbour our politicians, community leaders, police and even HR workers will again proliferate the culture of imputiny. And then we will have to wait for a gang rape bus incident of our own for people to start realising the situation.

12. GG
A country that is engulfed by corruption, inmpotancy and impunity, the only solution is vitilatism. I believe in an 'instant justice'. Instant justice in such way that the culprit would never, ever be able to commit the same crime with the same part of the body again as practised in some Islamic country as a legitimate punishement. It is time we do something about it now as a community, the victim can be your loved ones tomorrow. There has been no one to look up to for justice in the country for ages and there will never be!

13. r
Victims of rape are traumatized and greatly devastated due to the incident.Their self esteem falls and are depressed.The incident tends to replay in their mind over and over again.How can they survive living with the person who devastated them?I am stongly against the culture of rape victims marrying the culprits.Anyone forcing such decision on rape victims are criminals in my opinion.This culture is shameful and should be stopped.

14. ka
Just castrate those well as those who support and force the victims to marry the culprits.

15. R Rai
We brag to be a civilized society. Are we really? A society which does not respect women is NOT civilized at all. 

If we were a truly civilized society we wouldn't see girls and women harassed and tortured in the name of eve-teasing every time they leave their home.
Of course, female Foeticide and rape are henious crimes which must not go unpunished.

16. Fatima
I am disgusted. Its high time, we the people raise a voice and ask for stricter forms of punishment and a more accountable police system, a helpline that is availabe 24x7, and a massive media campaign in the lines of the polio drive to stop this. 

Only when there is a fear of the law will this stop. Look at the TIA mishap and now a series of events coming into light, lets attack this at ita roots before it grows into a plague and manifests its ugly head in our society as a permanent ill. 

Despite what these numbers say, our people are a lot more tolerant and our cities safer but incidents like these should not go unpunished. The bigger issue we have is of trafficking, until we can curb that we are still pathetic as a nation when it comes to defending our women.

Can not a big paper like yours with immense outreach, reputed professionals launch a massive media campaign against these things for once?

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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)