Delhi’s Rape Case Stirs Movement for Justice in Nepal

The recent Delhi gang-rape case has not only evoked rage across India but also spread indignation to its neighboring countries. The male-dominating society of Nepal is not very different from India, or most of South Asia, in terms of women facing sexual harassment and assault and authorities failing to address these issues. Delhi’s rape case has brought similar cases to the forefront in Nepal and groups have come forward to form a movement for justice and rule of law in the country.

Protests in Nepal started with the rape case of Sita Rai (name changed) who was robbed and raped by security personnel at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on her way back home from Saudi Arabia last month. Activists in Nepal have been protesting in front of Prime Minister’s residence at Baluwatar for the past few days demanding justice for Sita Rai. The activists prepared a petition and put it online to be signed and submitted to Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai to seek justice and immediate attention on the recent cases of violence against women.

Students in Birgunj (Nepal) participating in a candlelight rally protesting the gang rape in New Delhi. Image by Manish Paudel. Copyright Demotix (24/12/2012)

Stories of recent rape cases spread to social media after intensive coverage in mainstream media recently. Active users of Facebook and Twitter then poured their views and started comprehending that something needs to be done for change. Some of them took the lead and suggested going for protests to occupy the Prime Minister’s residence at Baluwatar. The movement has now spread as #OccupyBaluwatar on Twitter:

@UjjwalAcharya Expressing solidarity with #OccupyBaluwatar seeking justice for Sita Rai, victim of #TIARape. Please join at PM Quarters at 10am Saturday!

@manjushreethapa Here's hoping #OccupyBaluwatar can focus the state to end impunity on rape and other cases – thousands are still outstanding from the war.

@anitapthapa We ve been assured the PM will go thru petition letters by today and the office will get back to us within 2 days #TIArape #occupybaluwatar

Joining the movement and supporting the petitioners also included this year’s CNN Hero Pushpa Basnet. Here’s an image of her getting involved in the protest and showing her solidarity in the campaign today.

Puspa Basnet CNN Hero in Rape Case Campaign

Puspa Basnet CNN Hero 2012 Showing solidarity to the campaign – Image courtesy Ujwal Thapa (One of the Activists in the Campaign)

The government had decided to compensate the rape victim with Nepali Rs 150,000. Protesters however are demanding severe punishment to the perpetrators rather than the mere compensation. The #OccupyBaluwatar protests continue according to tweets and Facebook status of those involved. To sum up, here’s one Facebook status from activist Stuti Basnyet:

The protest #OccupyBaluwatar will carry on – tomorrow, Dec 29, 10 am onwards. Major progress today with the PM promising to raise the issues of both Sita Rai & Saraswati Subedi case for Cabinet decision on Tuesday. Until then, public pressure demanding Government accountability – delivery of justice – needs to keep building. Join the fight!


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