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Nepal too protests against sexual violence

world Updated: Dec 30, 2012 12:21 IST
Utpal Parashar

Like India where death of a young girl after brutal assault has sparked widespread protests, neighbouring Nepal too is witnessing demonstrations against sexual violence.

Since Friday, dozens of demonstrators carrying placards and banners are shouting slogans and staging sit-in-protests outside the residence of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in Kathmandu.

The protesters who include activists, lawyers, journalists, sportspersons, students, businessmen and social workers have also held demonstrations outside Singha Darbar, the official seat of government.

On Saturday evening they organised a candlelight vigil in memory of the Delhi girl who succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore hospital earlier in the day.

The protests have forced Bhattarai, who is busy trying to save his chair, promise swift action against perpetrators of violence against women during a meeting with activists at his residence.

"As violence against women continues one after another, time has come to say enough is enough. State has continuously failed to protect victims and assure that they get justice," said Dewan Rai, a protester.

The immediate trigger for the protests was the way in which a Nepali migrant worker was robbed of her hard-earned money by officials at the Tribhuwan International Airport and later raped by a policeman.

On Thursday, the government decided to compensate the victim with an amount of NRs 1,50, 000 (Rs. 93,750). This infuriated activists who blamed the government of equating sexual violence with money.

The protests have since snowballed to include all types of gender-based violence against women including a recent death of a domestic worker and disappearance of a housewife some months back.

In a list of demands submitted to the Prime Minister, the protesters have sought amendment of laws dealing with rapes, police reforms and implementation of court verdicts against offenders.

"We will continue our protests and keep pressurising the government till it delivers on its promises of curbing violence against women," said lawyer Mandira Sharma.

Violence against women is very prevalent in Nepal and a report released by the government in November based on survey of 900 women in six districts showed that nearly half of them have experienced violence.