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Unsafe Women


  RECENTLY, I was on my way to campus in the morning. Two people on bikes tried to sexually assault me. I was lucky because a few vegetable vendors near by came to my rescue, and they fled, others may not be as lucky as i was. Everyday, we face harassment on the streets, sexual comments, sly innuendos, groping hands in crowded buses and propositions at the workplace. As statistics about violence against women rise each day in Nepal, the toll women pay for just being women is ever rising.
    Recent episodes of abduction, rape and murder prove that every city is slowly becoming notorious for heinous crimes against women. If a poll is held by asking the question "Do you feel safe?", the collective reply would be "No." As women assert themselve as a workforce, we contribute significantly to the growth and wellbeing of the Nepali economy.
    However, we have yet to change our equations with multiple choices like living alone, dressing the way the please, choosing their partners, smoking, drinking, getting married, sataying with childrean, opting for motherhood or deciding against it, extract a heavy price. The truth is that women across Nepal do not feel safe. Government policies and the police have not been able to erase the feeling of insecurity women experience on the streets.
    The irony of reporting crime should be not go unnoticed. When people talk of crime against women, the most heinous of all is rape. The issue of violence against women is much broader. The profile of rapists is also changing. No longr do they fit into the stereotype that psychologists have portrayed. They now come from well-to-do educated families and are well connected. However, despite campaings to end violence against women, saftey audits and self-defense that the conviction rate is dismally low. For every incident of reported rape, a number of sexual assaults, molestations, eve teasing or domestic violence go unreported as women want to avoid social stigma.
    According to the National Crime Investigation Department, 81 percent of the rape cases that have reached court were pending trial in 2010, and only 21 percent of them have led to convictions. The reasons include delay in police action and the judicial process that often yields unsatisfactory or no results. They send out a virulent message that perpetrators can escape the long arm of the law. The responsiblity of the making every women safe belongs to each one of us.


Shaktee Poudeyal