KATHMANDU, DEC 29 - Activists, family members and the general public staged sit-in protests outside the Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar for the second consecutive day.
Saturday’s protest against a spate of gender-based violence saw the active participation of artists and journalists who expressed solidarity with the movement calling for a halt to violence against women. Egged on by the participation of the public, professionals and celebrities, protestors chanted slogans against government apathy towards the growing violence against women.
The protest was triggered by the recent incident of Sita Rai who was robbed by immigration officials and allegedly raped by a police constable. The protests have since snowballed into a movement against all kinds of discriminatory and gender-based violence.
Family members of Chori Maiya Maharjan and Saraswati Subedi joined the protest. While Maharjan has been missing since February, Subedi was found dead two weeks ago at her workplace. According to activists, the protests will continue until demands are met. On Friday, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai summoned representatives from the National Human Rights Commission to discuss demands and asked them to present their demands in writing, which he would table at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
“We will continue the protest to pressurise the government to deliver its promises,” said lawyer and activist Mandira Sharma. According to Sharma, the protesters are scheduled to submit a memorandum to Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar demanding his resignation, at his party office on Sunday. “However, we will continue the sit-in from 9 to 11 in the morning in front of the PM’s residence.” She said that a charter of demands had been submitted to PM Bhattarai on Saturday. The demands include the formation of a monitoring committee incorporating victim representatives, lawyers and rights activists to look into the cases of violence against women, the suspension of high-profile officials involved in Rai’s case, the report prepared by a joint secretary-led probe panel to be made public and the resignation of the home minister on moral grounds.
A Cabinet meeting on Thursday decided to dole out Rs 150,000 in compensation to Rai, which her family has refused to accept. “We need justice first, not money,” one of her relatives told the Post.
Many protesters were irked by the Cabinet decision, holding up placards that read, “Rape is worth Rs 150,000.” “It is humiliating to try to compensate dignity with money. It is insane,” said one protester who did not wish to be identified.
The Home Ministry, on Monday, suspended section officers Ram Prasad Koirala and Tika Pokharel for their involvement in Rai’s robbery. Senior non-gazetted official Somnath Khanal and police constable Parsuram Basnet are in police custody for the incident.
The prime minister has also called a meeting of the Committee of Gender Equality and Woman Empowerment to discuss the increasing number of incidents of violence against women on Sunday.
Posted on: 2012-12-30 08:57