Rape survivors in Nepal’s armed conflict demand justice and accountability

Recently, 20 women who were raped in Nepal’s armed conflict (1996-2006) shared their experience and pain in front of the leaders of four major political parties, diplomatic missions and representatives of the United Nations in an event.

Here is the touching account shared by 10 survivors:

Character – 1

In this program, we are women who were raped during the conflict. Here we are survivors of the horrendous deed. Today we have come here to express our sorrow and pain with the parents. We have gathered to demand justice. This is the purpose of this meeting.

I was born in a very remote place in the eastern hill district of Nepal. It was said that if you send your daughter to school, the whole family will be ruined. I went to school for one day, that too when I was helping my younger brother be in the school.

My elder brother was a Maoist leader. I was arrested at the age of 17 because I belonged to a Maoist family. That day at midnight, they took me to a small house (torture house) with handcuffs on my hands and chains on my feet.

Until 3 am, seven policemen, including a senior officer, tortured me by beating me, pulling my hair, pinching my cheeks, and burning me with cigarettes. I was left on the cold floor. Thus I had been missing for 28 days. In this process, I was taken into the custody of 4 districts.

I was gang-raped in the last detention. The day after the extreme torture, people entered the room. One of them came to me and held my hand. I started to scream and shout, but no one heard me. I was thrown on the ground and gang-raped. After some time I fainted. Later, I found out, that night in custody, I was raped by police personnel.

When I regained consciousness, I was chained. Blood was flowing in the place where it was laid down. The clothes I was wearing were torn. I was in a pool of blood. Later, I was taken to the hospital in CDO’s car and the doctor asked, “Did you sleep with boys? It shows that you slept with boys.”

I said no. After giving me medicine, I was taken to jail again. The next day, I had a heavy flow of blood. After three months, human rights activists helped me to be released from Dolakha prison. Otherwise, I would have died. Human officials saved me. Ekraj Bhandari, Khim Lal Devkota, Gauri Pradhan and Padma Ratna Tuladhar among others saved me.

After this, everything disappeared from my life’s picture. I just wanted to die. It was only after about two years that I managed to get into some regular life. Not everyone gets that opportunity, but I reached the highest level of the state.

I spoke about this only after 14 years of the peace process. There were two reasons for not speaking, first – I couldn’t. Next, no one else spoke. So I spoke out of necessity, not out of desire. If you as our parents had spoken, I would not have come to the street and spoken like this.

We were freed during the peace process. Even today, we want to say a little louder – even the previous law did not recognise us. In the eyes of society, we became women with damaged characters, not survivors in the eyes of the law. We want creative solutions. At least we wanted the status of survivors.

One friend was caught by the NGO and taken to Geneva. He came back with six points of instructions from the United Nations Human Rights Committee, in which it is said to make laws in the country and give justice to this woman.

NGOs are told to go abroad because the laws here do not give justice. We worked for seven years for justice. A project worth millions was brought but the condition of these survivors is the same. The survivor is still on the street with her child. One survivor has come here with bare feet even today.

Democracy will not be institutionalised until our self-respect is restored. This is the justice we seek. Our question is – was rape necessary to suppress the Maoist war or not?

Only one of us here knows the perpetrator. You say bring the evidence and we shall punish. But who will you punish? Punishment is given to those who you know have done wrong to you. The problem here is we are not able to recognise our perpetrator. Is it man for law or law for man? We cannot find the culprit ourselves.

Only two of us present here have cases registered in the TRC. There is also evidence that she was registered as injured. Even though why wasn’t her case registered? On the one hand, there is no survivor-friendly system. The survivor is afraid to reveal her identity due to the fear of abandonment. On the other hand, there is no law to register our case.

We are made to live as if we are the culprits, not the survivors. We are being punished. Instead of the identity of a characterless person, at least we should be given the status of a survivor. We also have security threats. Not all of us know criminals. But criminals know us. We are also proof. Let the state provide protection and the known criminals should be prosecuted.

Children of survivors should be able to get an education. There should be arrangements for basic needs. Let justice be done.

One of the survivors here, one of her brothers is in the police and another in the army. After persuading them that it was not their sister’s fault, after many years, they let her perform Bhai Tika. Being an individual I tried to help her, and her happiness returned. So, why can’t the state do the same?

Personally, I don’t want anything in politics. We want to die only by establishing the truth. We are ready to give a solution. If the country remains, we will remain but we will not tolerate crime. Let the truth be established in time.

Character-2

I was gang-raped by a rebel group in a public place. It has been 22 years now. I also filed a complaint against them in the Peace Committee and the Maoists. But nothing happened.

It was seven in the morning, and the group of people from the rebel group came and dragged me away like a goat. They beat me nonstop. My 13-year-old son was inside the house which was set on fire.

After gang-raping me, they threw me in the river to die. After I regained consciousness, they picked me up again and tied me up. There were two other little girls with me at that time. They were stripped naked and bitten on their breasts, body and face. Blood was flowing from their bodies.

The screams of those little girls still ring in my ears. All three of us were raped in turn. When I regained consciousness, my limbs were broken. There were wounds all over the body. When I asked for water, they put urine in my mouth.

Many newspapers and magazines wrote about the atrocities on me. The rebel group took away my husband’s property. He forcibly confiscated the name. My father had passed away when he left me. It has been 22 years since I went to my maternal home. They don’t even invite me to family functions.

Then my husband’s mental condition deteriorated. He started living in the temple. Three years ago, friends reminded me and called me back home, but he neither spoke to me nor ate what I touched. Criminals are roaming freely. I am crying inside. Before I die, I want to feel justice even if it means for only one day.

The criminal who raped me has reached the parliament. How does he legislate in our favour? We are Nepali. We are hoping to get justice from Nepal. Otherwise, we are ready to go anywhere to get justice. The law had to be made quickly. I had to get survivor status.

Now I have neither a son nor a husband. And there is neither relationship nor society. How will we survive? When will we get justice? What will be our name? Are we prostitutes? Let the government say.

Character-3

I went to look after the buffalo near the forest. Four or five soldiers wearing black belts asked me if I had seen the army advancing. I said, “Yes, they have gone.” A soldier grabbed my hair and pulled me saying you are a Maoist spy. They started beating me and dragged me towards the forest.

I was conscious until the three men raped me, then I fainted. When I regained consciousness, the sun had already set. I had no clothes on my body. I went home with torn clothes.

After a month I had a constant fever. After the checkup, I found out that I was pregnant. The teacher who went with me liked me. He asked the doctor to perform an abortion saying that it was his child and I was too young to be a mother.

He also promised to get married after the abortion. Later he married me. But he started torturing me by asking how many people she had slept with since the wedding night. I could not speak. I went to the peace committee to report the rape. But it was sent back as there was no evidence.

Later, an organisation took my case to the Human Rights Committee. From there, the news went to CDI. And rumours spread throughout the district. The rest of my life was ruined. Now my husband has married another.

My father-in-law also tortured me. They set my house on fire. I had to leave the house at 12:30 am with a nursing baby. After being kicked out of the house, I covered myself and my son with an umbrella and spent the rainy night outside the house.

I never gave up but my health condition is getting worse day by day. The torture of the family continues till now. I am happy to have my say with you. Unfortunately, my case has come everywhere. I won this case abroad. But why is the state unaware? (crying)

After taking the case to the local level, I became more insecure. I was insecure yesterday and today. This society has named me a prostitute. How do I raise a child? How to educate my child? Just living is difficult. I am living as a mother who is taking care of a son born from the rape of the army.

Why are you (political leadership) not sensitive? We are like your daughters. Tell me, which country do we belong to? Are the raped women not citizens of Nepal? Do we not have the right to live in our country? We also want to laugh and live, we want to walk with our heads held high, but in this society, we have been given the name of whores. Is being raped our fault, or weakness?

Some disappeared in the war. Those killed were declared martyrs. It was said that he had sacrificed for the country. What do we show? We have invisible wounds that never heal. We cannot forget. We cannot tell the doctor. There is a problem in the uterus. The doctor asks, “How did this happen? What do you do?” He also looks at us with a bad look. What to answer?

Our case has not even been registered. Please pass the TRC bill and open the way to register our case. At least accept that we are survivors. Someone made a project for us, someone made a business. How long will there be projects and politics in our name?

How long will you do politics on the grief of a daughter who has lost her self-esteem due to rape? When will justice be given? What is your name? Where do you keep us safe? Will you make laws after we are dead? What is the meaning of justice after death?

We are your daughter. I am folding my hands and saying, children are born from rape. Who will give the name? There is no name in the school, we are using pseudo-names to educate our children. We are homeless. Put yourself in this situation and see. (Crying) Although I ran away from other responsibilities, I could not run away from my mother’s responsibility.

Character 4

I was 14 years old. While I was sleeping at home, the army picked me up and took me away on charges of being a Maoist. Kind of abducted. After being arrested, they didn’t take me to detention or jail, they kept me in temporary camps wherever they went and raped me there.

I found out that 2/3 of people raped me. I don’t know anything else. I woke up in the morning in a semi-conscious state. My legs and hands were tied with ropes. They not only raped me but also threw me on the floor and kicked me in the chest. This process continued for months.

The army used to forcibly send me to the toilet. They used to rape me there. I was raped more than 100 times in each barrack. They used to touch my genitals. Thus I was gang-raped for 14 months. Raped each time while changing barracks. They also used to treat and check whether I was pregnant. But the blood kept flowing.

They raped me giving me pills for birth control. Even now I can’t sleep on my back. They used to do whatever they wanted to me. Boots trampled on the body. They made me stand up, took off my clothes and inserted a stick. I can’t even remember the torture they gave me then. They did things unimaginable.

We are now living with the badge of whores. My daughter was born from rape. My family arranged my marriage when I was pregnant. After four children were born there, my husband married another girl. I am now alone with the responsibility of the children.

Now I have a uterus problem and I am not able to treat it. I was raped, but I don’t know them. If I had been killed then, I would not have had to suffer as I am suffering today (crying). I don’t dare to tell this society that my daughter was born from rape. Because this society will not let us live. It will force me and my daughter to commit suicide.

Rape was made a weapon. The whole army is not wrong, the individual is guilty, right? What action will our parents (political leadership) take? Criminals may now be living a luxurious life with respect and safety, but we are dying in this condition. We are living moment by moment.

We want an environment where we can live freely, safely and with dignity. I have a question for you as parents – was rape necessary in war? We need a law that will not rape girls in future due to other conflicts or under any pretext. We need law, we need justice.

I have not been able to feed my children rice. I am on the road, I don’t have anything to feed my children. Have you imagined my condition as a mother when I am not able to feed my children when they ask for food?

My 10-year-old son is teased at school where children ask him who his father is. At home, he says he will go abroad to earn money and with that money, he will buy a gun and kill those criminals. How do you work to prevent the next generation from picking up a gun?

We are grieving, we don’t know if your heart aches or not. We hope for justice and hope we will not be a prostitute on the streets tomorrow. If such a situation occurs, the honour of this country and your leaders will not remain. Let us live as honourable people. Accept that we are survivors.

Character 5

I was 14 years old. Armed security forces caught me while I was waiting for the local vehicle to go to my sister’s place. I was kept in the custody of security forces for three years. They took me blindfolded. I didn’t know where I was taken. I was raped day and night. Beaten with boots. Tortured. (Crying) Silence for a while!

Every morning when I woke up from unconsciousness, I had no clothes on my body. It was as if the body was half paralysed. After torture and rape, the army used to torture by rubbing salt and pepper on my body. I had a one-and-a-half-year-old child in my arms when I returned home after being freed from the capture by the government forces.

I was taken to the hospital only after three days when I was in labour pain. Even when I was giving birth in the hospital, my hands were tied with chains. I gave birth with handcuffs.

After that, my community made me marry a boy in the community. He accepted me with the child. But after marriage, from the beginning, he always started doubting me by calling me ‘army’s wife’. Then gradually his torture increased.

My case is not registered because I don’t know how to get justice. Who is responsible for finding the father of a child born under the control of the state? That child is now 18 years old. When will I get justice?

Character 6

It was a war period. They arrested me from home. While in custody, they blindfolded me at first. Then, they applied super glue. My vision has deteriorated and I can’t see properly. They used to insert a wooden stick into my vagina. I was gang-raped many times. After the peace process, the doctor removed a piece of wood from the uterus.

(While she was speaking, other victims were weeping in the background.)

There were only men in the place of torture. They tied and kept me naked. They took me from Baramjhiya to Rajbiraj camp. They were kept in the place of torture for three months. Even now I can’t walk. Not all treatment was done in hospitals in Nepal. It was not possible to go abroad. We are living as dead bodies.

Even when the case of our friends was registered in the TRC, they did not get justice. Many people do not have evidence to file a case, government agencies look for evidence. How can we get the evidence? But even though I have evidence, it was not accepted to register the case in TRC.

Don’t just listen to ignore our voices. If you do not give justice, we will come to the streets and tell the world what happened yesterday. We will say, we are raped, and now we will not leave until we get justice. My life was ruined after an organisation publicised the case in the name of giving justice. My husband left me after the incident of rape was made public. The only daughter committed suicide. I submitted a 6-page incident report to the peace committee saying that I was raped in custody. Nothing has happened yet.

Character 7

Three daughters-in-law, a married daughter and I were five people harvesting wheat in a field near the forest. The army came and accused us of involvement with the Maoists and started abusing us. They started raping the daughter-in-law and daughter. I asked the army not to do anything to them.

Then the army hit me on my left eye and raped me too. My left eye hurt and since then it has been damaged. There are still bayonet wounds on the abdomen and thighs.

All of us were gang-raped—5 family members— in the field. We returned home only after the evening. We threw our torn and bloody clothes in a nearby river. We promised each other not to tell anyone about this incident.

Additional statement of her daughter who was also raped:

As my mother said, we went to the field to harvest wheat. The army immediately reached the field and accused us of being Maoists and raped all of us. Mother’s eyes were damaged. People in the village call us ‘prostitutes’ and ‘randi’. We are civilians but the army raped us as Maoists.

Even now I can’t walk properly. I stayed in Civic for three months. The doctor said there is no treatment here. I could not go abroad due to lack of money. I have survived as a living corpse. We have gone crazy. Even when we have proof, it is not registered. Don’t forget to listen here, leaders! We want justice. If not, we will protest.

Character 8

I was young, I was studying in class 8. I went to see the cattle. The cattle entered the corn field. So, I hurriedly ran to chase the cattle from the field. On that day, an army unit came to the village. The army called me.

I was scared. They threatened to come or shoot. They took me to a secluded house near the farm. First, one person ransacked the house. Are you a Maoist? They asked. I said my father is a UML leader. He kicked and dropped on the floor.

They started beating me. One of them closed the door. Then the four people who were outside also entered the room.

They took out my clothes and raped me all at the same time. I was a little girl. One of them put his penis in my mouth, one from behind, one from front. How difficult it must have been for me at such a young age!

My trousers were drenched in blood. They threatened me not to show the Major. And, they put me in a car with four other people to take me back to the village. After reaching Major’s place, they tied my hands and feet and told me to run. How could I run with such pain? He said that the Maoist’s daughter might know how to run. They dragged me pulling my hair. Touched my genitals in inappropriate ways. (Weeping) They ruthlessly tortured me.

We told them not to kill us. Calls came from human rights activists and the Red Cross. And they left us saying let these prostitutes go. I told my mother everything. she said not to tell anyone about this incident. Mother took me for treatment.

On the one hand, the father was being tortured by a Maoist torturer because he was associated with a political party. On the other hand, the army did such horrendous deeds. I am talking about the incident that happened when I was 14 years old. Even as the daughter of a political leader, I did not get justice. We are not prostitutes. How do we live? We want justice.

Character 9

I am a mother. Only a mother knows the pain of a mother. Our family had a dispute with a neighbour about a transaction. Neighbours complained to the Maoists about the incident. I had a 3-month-old daughter. The Maoists separated me from my daughter and took me to another village away from home at midnight. We, the couple, were kept in different rooms.

There I saw a man who was following me. The same person asked me to leave my husband when I refused, he raped me throughout the night. He came to me and said my husband was dead and went to my husband and tortured him saying that I was dead. In this way, I was repeatedly raped saying ‘I want you’.

What is the condition of the breasts of a three-month-pregnant woman whose baby has not taken milk? Only mother knows. The milk was leaking. He raped me until I became unconscious. At that time, milk was flowing from the breast and blood from the uterus.

He used to say that they were rebels to bring equality. He used to say that they would send students from private schools to government schools. But my father was also kidnapped.

(Crying) I was studying in a private school. They deprived me of education. They used to give me trouble in my maternal house, they did not even let me stay at home. They separated me from my three-month-old daughter and raped her. My life was destroyed. That’s why I had to stay away from my husband. Later I came to know that the rapist was killed in the conflict.

We are dying every moment and living in grief. Our pain will surely burn you. My request is – do politics for us, don’t do politics in our name.

Character 10

I was three months pregnant. My family sent me to Phupu’s (father’s sister) house in Terai for safety. I was going to the hospital for treatment. I was arrested on charges of being a Maoist.

Coming from the western part of Nepal, the language was difficult in Madhesh. So the army was sure that I was a Maoist. When I tried to prove it to them, they hit me in the mouth with a rifle. My teeth broke and started bleeding.

They took me to a forest with a small stream and gang-raped me. When I regained consciousness, my hands were chained and I was lying on the floor of the barracks.

The army trampled my stomach with their boots and my womb was wasted. I was taken to the hospital after bleeding continuously. The doctor told me that the baby had rotted inside and cleaned my uterus. You cannot even imagine how much I suffered.

The post Rape survivors in Nepal’s armed conflict demand justice and accountability appeared first on OnlineKhabar English News.

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