From The Nepali Press
Anju Chhetri in Kantipur, 9 January
FROM ISSUE #128 (17 JAN 2003 - 23 JAN 2003) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Amnesty International (AI) last month published its report (Nepal: A Deepening Human Rights Crisis) giving the identities of the rape victims in Nepalganj. Whether it was right in doing so is an issue of debate. Probably, AI needed to identify the rape victim women for international credibility. However, it was expected of Nepali media to protect the identities of these victims. A trend has been set by the Nepali press to protect identities of rape victims by not publishing names and photos in the recent years. But the victims of alleged rape by two senior army officers in Chisapani barrack of Nepalganj were not accorded such respect. The English language Nepali Times newspaper even reproduced a picture (#125) of the victim earlier broadcast by Royal Nepal Army on its weekly Nepal Television program. Protecting identities of victims does not mean the press should leave out crimes against women, but to respect the privacy of a victim. If the woman voluntarily wants to reveal her identity, then it is her decision. But in the Chisapani incident, nobody bothered to ask if she wanted to be identified. The government and the army repeatedly inflicted mental torture on the women publicly by showing their pictures and revealing their identities. But the press and human rights organisations should have been more sensitive. Instead of forming different committees to probe on the incident and making the victims to relate their horrific experiences afresh, everyone should respect the credibility of the Amnesty International report to pressurise the government and the army to punish the perpetrators of the crime.