Women who suffered severe sexual abuse during the 10-year conflict led by the Maoists have urged the government against providing amnesty to sex abusers.
The victims asked the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) to treat sexual violence on par with other war crimes such as murder and disappearance.
“I was not old enough to understand what the war was for. Yet I was made a part of it when I was raped in my own village. I want justice but I’m afraid the criminals of sexual assault will walk free through amnesty, especially after the nine-point agreement,” said a rape victim from Kavre.
According to the victim, in her late twenties now, the incident took place when she was still a school student and that she finally mustered the courage to file her case after the government set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and CIEDP to investigate on war-time crimes.
Conflict-affected women are worried that the nine-point agreement between the ruling CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) would result in amnesty to human rights violators of the decade-long insurgency. As a result, they have come up with a 10-point declaration urging for representation of women as ensured by Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making the registration cases effective and providing temporary shelter, counselling and medical facility to conflict-affected women.
Around 100 women from 20 districts came up with the demand to make arrangements for women to register their case and find out the latest development on their cases in their own language in order to respect the right to confidentiality after a two-day consultation. The demand was handed over to Chairperson of CIEDP Lokendra Mallick.
“Women have suffered the most during the conflict, they have lost a male member and usually the bread winner of the family, and have had to bear the burnt of raising the family alone. We want compensation for our children so that they get scholarship to study and skilled trainings for employment,” said Dhanamayar Pun of Rolpa.
Pun, 44, had lost her husband in an encounter between the Maoists and the security force 14 years ago.
In response, Mallick assured the women that his commission would not wilt under political pressure and requested conflict victims to register cases without any pressure. “CIEDP is an independent body and we will not be influenced by the government or the political parties and we will do our best to ensure that justice is provided,” said Mallick.
Mahesh Sharma Poudel, secretary at CIEDP, reassured victims that their confidentiality will be maintained and that only members of CIEDP would open the sealed envelope. He also said that so far 1,820 cases have been registered at the CIEDP, which out-numbers cases filed at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. Only 1,495 cases had been registered at the ministry.