Nepal: Poor policy implementation prevents rape victims from seeking help 

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Kathmandu, Nov 21: Despite policy reforms and establishment of local peace committee in villages across Nepal, the plights of wartime rape victims is still going unheard.

According to Support Nepal‘s findings on peace mechanisms at local level, village development committees lack the resources required to tackle legal as well as psychological problems faced by women and minority groups across the country. “There is a lot to be done, though we have very strong policies the policies need to be implemented,” said Chairperson of NGO Federation, Sharmila Karki.
Even eight years after the civil unrest in Nepal, wartime rape victims in the country are still unable to voice their suffering due to the 35-day limit to report the crime. ” Both insurgents as well as the Nepal army have been held responsible for sexual violence in during the war, and though on paper we have establishments to help them heal, like the National Action Plan which has been formulated in accordance to UNSCR’s 1325 and 1820 resolution which focus on helping in the rehabilitation of women and girls who endured sexual violence during armed conflict, these establishments have failed at helping women in remote regions across the country,” said Devika Timilsina, human rights activist and program manager for the District workshops on Localizing Peace Mechanisms.

The National Plan of Action Against Gender-based Violence prepared by the Government of Nepal, states that gender-based violence will be controlled and security and protection will be provided to women and children victims of violence. The plan of action has set the objectives to undertake legal and institutional reforms for ending gender-based violence, ensuring the access of persons affected by gender-based violence to justice, establishing and strengthening community-based village-level mobile services for providing protection to victims of gender violence, strengthening the health sector for effectively addressing gender-based violence, raising public awareness and promoting zero tolerance against gender violence, facilitating the economic and social empowerment of women and children for combating gender violence and ensuring coordination, communication and monitoring works among the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the plan.

However, according to him NAP committee in rural areas still do not have psychosocial counselors and gender experts to help women deal with sensitive issues like rape. Support Nepal‘s findings on local peace mechanisms too shows that there is a huge gap in the NAP efforts as it has not been implemented properly.

“The Nepali government needs to recognize war-time rape as a crime as present laws do not allow rape victims to take perpetrators to court and even if they do they are denied justice. And, nor are there effective mechanisms to provide, rape victims with the counselling and care they require. ” We had taken several war time rape cases to court and after being rejected multiple times we had taken a case to supreme court just to exhaust national options and like we thought there too we were denied justice so now we are taking the case to international court of justice,” said Amber Raut, Human Right Activist and Advocate.

Despite various efforts by human rights groups, the 35-day limit to report a rape case has forced women into darkness while their perpetrators are allowed to walk free, such laws have also raised serious questions on of gender equality in Nepal.

The Oslo Times

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