Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Kathmandu, Nepal, — This is a true story. Recently, my friend Chandrakala was brutally gang-raped in Biratnagar, Nepal. After she was raped, she sent me a letter about how Nepal’s bad political situation, war and bad leadership has allowed for women to be raped. Biratnagar’s political and security situation is bad. It's bad in Kathmandu too. It is especially bad news for women's safety. In fact, society’s outlook towards raped women in Nepal is not good.

Political activities go on in my area, and people have been beaten up by different political groups in Biratnagar. I have heard that the issue keeps getting shuffled back and forth between political leaders. The people are suffering from electrical load-shedding, but life goes on, with some people doing what they have to do. It is too bad.

Looking over the letter that my friend Chandrakala sent me, I am sad to read it. She is my friend and the love pours out from my heart for her.

The question is: where does Nepalese policy stand on this issue? Do Nepali NGOs condemn this? Will they take action against the men who raped my friend?

Remembering past times, my thoughts go out to Chandrakala. She had once told me, "Men are selfish. Most of the men want a beautiful woman for themselves. My husband told me I am not beautiful. Kamu, even if my face is not beautiful, I deserve to be treated with love. Women are exploited by men. I hate being married, Kamu."

She also told me, "Today is Maghe Sangranti. One kilogram of tarul (a Nepali root vegetable traditionally eaten on this holiday) is Rs. 100. The same time last year, it was just Rs. 18. With such a price just for tarul, it is the poor who are suffering the most. Hospitals have reduced their services, due to a lack of electricity. The government hospitals in West Nepal have said they may close altogether, due to the effect of electricity cuts. Factories are in a dilemma. They cannot keep idle workers, but they are warned not to lay off workers. The alternative is bankruptcy. Papers and magazines are also affected. I was raped, but there is no justice because of the political situation."

She was wedded with her husband only last month. Only last year, she started work at a nursing hospital. Now she is a rape survivor, alone, depressed and sad. Her husband also left her because she was raped.

My reply to her was, "You are not alone, and it is not your fault you were raped. Nepal is beset with so many problems. The agitation of ethnic groups, the Terai problems, women's problems, children's problems, scarcity of petroleum and other essential commodities, 16 hours per day of electrical load-shedding, vacancies not being filled in national corporations, etc. This shows the lack of responsibility of the present leaders towards the people. People are being shot. People are being looted in broad daylight. Women are being raped. To restore law and order and achieve previous enforcement standards would be a good task that the people would welcome."

I also told her, "Let there be a proper environment where Nepalese people can exercise their democratic rights freely and fairly. Let there be a good environment where women can exercise their women's rights, where women will be respected.”

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