Violence against women continues to be endemic and tolerated in our country. Our state organs, the very people we pay to protect us, rape women and actively deny them justice. The case of Sita Rai, robbed and raped by security forces at the Tribhuvan International Airport, is a horrific example of how women are treated across the country. The state has failed us. Not only does it not protect us, it perpetrates violence on us.
Family members of victims and a broad coalition of citizens have been organizing protests against this state of governance and impunity. We are being forced to protest for days just to get a First Information Report (FIR) registered! Today, we staged a day-long dharna in front of the PM’s residence. A group of representatives also met the PM to present demands, as outlined below. Prime Minister Bhattarai has agreed to fulfill all these demands, presenting them before the Cabinet when it meets on Tuesday, January 2. We will continue to protest till this time to ensure justice to the victims and a fair security and justice system for all Nepalis.
In the case of Saraswoti Subedi
1 Commission a panel of doctors to conduct a second postmortem in the presence of activist Dr Renu Raj Bhandari and Mohana Ansari, member of the Women’s Commission.
2 A monitoring team facilitated by the Women’s Commission and comprising of the victims’ representatives as well as lawyers from human rights organisations should be allowed to access all documents relevant to the investigations. The team should have the authority to suggest an investigation strategy, including demanding the interrogation of certain individuals. The monitoring team will also work on investigations of other ongoing cases as identified by the group.
In the case of Sita Rai
1 Make the Committee’s report public.
2 Suspend all persons accused of looting Sita, initiate a criminal investigation and file charge-sheets against them.
3 As in the Saraswoti Subedi case, empower the monitoring team to review the investigation files and implement their recommendations.
4 Ensure that departmental action will not supersede criminal action.
General demands related to both the cases
1 The Home Ministry must provide updates to the Women’s Commission within 48 hours on the status of investigations in recent cases of violence against women, namely:
Chori Maiya Maharjan
The Commission will provide updates to the family members. The monitoring team will also have access to the files.
2 The Home Ministry must issue directives to all police posts stating that the police have an obligation to register an FIR and start investigations on any alleged cases of violence against women once the case is reported. Ensure that a failure to register the FIR and forcing the victims to mediate with the perpetrators automatically triggers departmental action against the chief of the responsible police post.
3 Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhedar must resign over his department’s failure in the Sita Rai case.
4 Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai must publicly apologise for the failure of the state machinery in all the recent cases listed above.
Long Term Demands
We believe that extensive reforms are needed to prevent such incidents from occurring. Once our demands on behalf of Sita Rai and Saraswati Subedi have been achieved, the following issues must be addressed:
1 Respect court orders and arrest those against whom courts have issued arrest warrants (For example Arjun Lama, Ujen Kumar Shrestha in the Maina Sunuwar case). Ensure that no one is above the law.
2 Revisit and seriously amend laws related to rape, include the 35-day limitation as well as rules of evidence and punishment.
3 Reform the police, making the department more professional and accountable.
4 Ensure 50 percent women’s representation in all government structures.
5 Lift the age bar, which prevents women under the age of 30 from going to work in the Gulf
6 Make the Women’s Commission an independent statutory body.
7 Enhance the capacity of the women cell of the police.
8 Implement court orders related to fast track courts.
Document prepared by citizens, human rights activists, journalists and families of victims of violence against women, on the street outside the Central Bank, Baluwatar on Dec 28, 7pm.
Posted on: 2012-12-30 08:45