Today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report revealing that both government forces and Maoist combatants raped and sexually harassed women and girls during the decade-long armed conflict in Nepal. Many of these crimes remain unreported, with survivors isolated and unable to find ways to access justice and reparations.
In March 2013, the Nepalese government passed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) ordinance, calling for a high-level commission to investigate human rights violations that were committed during the conflict. Disturbingly, the ordinance gave discretion to the TRC to grant amnesty to perpetrators of rape and sexual violence.
This policy silences victims, and discourages others from coming forward. If this silence continues, victims of rape and sexual violence during the conflict will be unlikely to receive care, treatment, or counseling.
Two Nepalese women, interviewed by HRW, spoke about how their children were present for their attack. Witnessing acts of sexual violence is especially destructive to children, who are particularly vulnerable to the psychological effects of rape and sexual assault. The fact remains: no child should have to witness the rape of their mother.
Women in Nepal continue to face social stigma and discrimination by their families and communities. Many live in fear and isolation, and stigmas that contribute to their economic disadvantage are complemented by government policies which grant amnesty to their rapists.
Youth to End Sexual Violence fully endorses the recommendations put forth by HRW in the “Silence and Forgotten Report,” to ensure that the TRC, or any other independent commission, is specifically tasked with investigating allegations of conflict-related rape and sexual violence. We commend HRW for their recommendation of individual compensations for women, who are encouraged to come forward with their experiences of rape and sexual violence. Youth agree that rehabilitative services should take all appropriate measures to promote the physical, cognitive, and psychological recovery, and social reintegration of survivors of sexual violence and their families in an environment that fosters the health, welfare, self-respect, dignity, and autonomy of the survivor. Youth to End Sexual Violence emphasizes that rehabilitative services must include be tailored to meet the specific needs of women, including age and disability-specific needs, the economic impact of raising children born out of rape, and whether they are female-headed households.
We urge the Nepalese government to take decisive action and implement legislative, programmatic and policy changes, in order to bridge the gaps and overcome the barriers for victims seeking justice.
Youth to End Sexual Violence stands in solidarity with Human Rights Watch to #EndTheSilence.
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