Starting out as a rookie journalist, one of my first stories to be published in the only national daily was about the rape of a minor. A six year old was raped by her grandfather in the heart of Kathmandu. Her trauma marred with confusion and chaos in the family. While many wanted to bury the incident in a cloak of silence and denial, it was the mother who stood bruised and broken demanding justice for her child.
I followed up on this ugly incident to put the spotlight on the taboo topic of incest. A topic that still remains undercover. Statistics on child rape and sexual abuse is mainly recorded on the basis of media reports; much of it unaccounted and under reported till date however showing an incline in occurrence. At the time, as part of my report I had approached mental health practitioners to discuss the mindset behind incest, and whether victims of incest and sexual violence especially minors were supported with counseling or therapy. I was dismayed to learn that there was no such thing available and much less on the radar of research. The social constructs of the society is such that often the victim is further victimised having to live in close proximity of the perpetrator who is often not held accountable and in a majority of the cases, goes unpunished. The scars of this abuse may never erase nor diminish, and the survivor often lives with guilt and fear, yet we hesitate to talk about it or take action.
With every crisis the country has faced, women and children’s vulnerabilities have only increased. Molestation, violence, rape today make it to the news almost every single day; yet there is little call to action. There are now help lines available and police and medical personnel is being sensitised on dealing with victims but a huge number of voices are being stifled and thwarted behind closed doors.
In 2021, 22 countries around the world have not yet criminalised incest, marital rape is experienced by 15% of all married women in the world, globally almost one in three women have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non partner sexual violence or both, 72% of girls and woman account for human trafficking, 137 women are killed every day by a member of their family in the world, and yet fewer than 40% women who experience violence globally seek help. Laws remain inconsistent, insufficient and not systematically enforced.
News about violence, incest, rape is being normalised. We flip the page even before we have registered the headlines. Trivialising it only means degradation, terror and limitation of all women. Remaining silent on any act of violation within our homes or outside is being okay with it, and it’s definitely not okay.