Just prior to the Oscar awards of 2017, Harvey Weinstein, a famous film
producer of Hollywood was dismissed from his own company following sexual abuse
allegations. A 'MeToo' campaign then
followed in which over a hundred women came forward and accused him. Three New York journalists involved in
unearthing the story have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
In 2012 a physiotherapy student in New Delhi was gang raped and killed. Six culprits including a juvenile were arrested. One committed suicide in jail, the juvenile was imprisoned for four years whilst others are serving life sentences. As Indian laws do not permit a victim’s identity to be revealed, the girl has been referred to in news reports as Nirbhaya or ‘fearless’.
In mid April, a BJP lawmaker in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh was arrested for the rape of a teenager in January 2017. The police had been inactive and only acted when the victim attempted to set herself on fire in front of the state leader’s house.
A Bakerwal community Muslim girl of eight was sedated and held in a village temple for five days. During this period she was gang raped and finally bludgeoned to death with the intention of frightening her people out from that area. The temple custodian, three of his relatives plus four policemen await trail in this connection. Some lawyers and two BJP Ministers in the Jammu & Kashmir government took part in a rally to obstruct the legal process. The ministers have now been made to resign.
In Surat an eleven year old girl, possibly from Odisha or Bengal was raped and tortured for a week before being killed. She had 86 stab wounds on her body.
Candle light vigils and protest gatherings have been held in many cities in India in protests at these and the many previous atrocities against girls in the country. Big demonstration was held in Bandra, Mumbai demanding death penalty for rapists. Some, as they do not advocate the rule of ‘Eye for an Eye’, feel that death penalty is the answer. They say that the rapist is then more likely to kill the woman out of fear of her testimony against him. On the other hand many are adamant that the death penalty should be the norm for rapists of minors. Bowing down to such demands, the President of India has in April 2018 given his consent to an ordinance proposing this.
The type of behaviour that is taking place in India is not much different to what is possibly occurring here in Nepal too. Gang rape occurred in Durbar Marg, the centre of the capital some four months ago. Paedophilia occurs in some areas of our cities. Our media is not as competent, widespread nor effective as that in India to publicise these matters. The Maina Sunwar case resurfaces as news from time to time. Acid throwing in the faces of girls by rejected suitors or gang rapes are being copied in our land. Nepali girls, usually collecting firewood in the woods or grazing cattle are periodically found dead. It should be made obligatory that further investigation and compulsory post-mortems be the norm in every such case and findings made public. The findings should not be swept under the carpet. A recent disconcerting news is of Nepali troops serving with the UN in South Sudan, being charged for teenage rape.
The trafficking of girls to the ‘Red Light’ areas of various Indian cities has been going on for ages. It was because of poverty and illiteracy that our Nepali girls ended up in such dire straits. Sadly this is a grave world-wide problem against which not much has been done. What must be appreciated is the attempt by the Government media -Nepal Radio and Television to publicise this fact so that innocent Nepali girls are not hoodwinked and sold to the many ‘Madams’, possibly even of Nepali origin continuing in the oldest profession of sex workers. Kudos must also be given to Maiti Nepal for their tremendous work in the country. With the seven Pradesh and one central government, one hopes that action will increase eight fold against this heinous crime. Hopefully there will be no political blessings to the perpetrators.
Thankfully there is now more awareness about the ethical issues and corruption originating from politicians and even monarchs during their tenures. Such articles have occasionally appeared in Nepali newspapers. Action against such elite offenders is taking place in many countries:
President Zuma of South Africa and President Mugabe of Zimbabwe were made to step down for corruption. King Juan Carlos of Spain was made to abdicate in 2014 for offering a two million Euro bribe.
Alberto Fujimori, a three time president of Peru was convicted of human rights abuses and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison but was pardoned after ten years. President Lula de Silva, a very popular president of Brazil was jailed for twelve years for corruption. This action was politically motivated to prevent him from standing for president again. Dilma Rousseff, previous president of Brazil was suspended after four years and later sentenced.
Guen-hye Park was the first elected woman president of South Korea and served for four years. She was arrested on corruption charges and given a 24 year sentence. Whilst Ehud Olmert, a former Israeli PM had been jailed, the current PM Netanyahu is being investigated for corruption.
In the SAARC region PM Khalida Zia of Bangladesh has been jailed whilst PM Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan had to step down and serve a lifetime ban in politics.
The possibility always exits for ones downfall to be followed by the gnashing of teeth and great sorrow. The status quo is the overall desire with a few prepared to scratch the surface and explore. Sadly most of us are not of the temperament to ‘Rock the Boat’.