With the arrest of the accused murderer and rapist of Bhagrathi Bhatta, there is a big respite that the investigation has made a breakthrough. There was widespread fear whether the Bhagrathi case would remain unsolved like that of Nirmala Panta. Nirmala’s family members are still fighting for justice, demanding that those involved in her brutal rape and murder be brought to book. Police are still clueless about the murder of Nirmala. Learning a lesson from the botched investigation process of Nirmala’s case, this time police maintained utmost caution from the beginning and launched investigation meticulously so that the perpetrator would not get off scot-free. Nepal Police deserves kudos for its success in nabbing the accused rapist in time. This particular success sends positive message in the society that criminals cannot escape the long arm of the law.
However, Bhagrathi case reveals some shoddy factors that prompt individuals to commit rape considered the biggest crime against women. Normally vulnerable and minor girls become the victim of sexual assaults. Experts offer myriad of factors behind the occurrences of the rape and gender violence. Lack of sex education, gender sensitisation and legal awareness coupled with culture of impunity have led to rise in the cases of rape and murder of girls and women although the people have become more educated and empowered. A sense of masculine superiority, nurtured by patriarchal mind-set and misleading anti-women myths, have also contributed to the rising cases of sexual violence against women. In the Bhagrathi case, a sense of strong revenge led the culprit to kill 17-year-old girl.
According to the initial statements of Dinesh Bhatta, who was arrested on charge of raping and murdering Bhagrathi, he took the life of the 12-grader girl to avenge her late father, who had ‘raped’ his relatives in the past. The issue was settled in community, avoiding the legal action. The police is also investigating his claim. However, it is a height of insanity as well as brutal crime to rape and kill an innocent girl out of vendetta as claimed. Even if her father had committed crime in the past, this can’t be avenged on an innocent girl. The victim could go to police to get justice. It appears that Dinesh, her sibling by relationship, murdered her in a pre-planned manner. He tried to pose his innocence by participating in protest rallies against her murder.
The Bhagrathi case points to another serious legal lapses. The settlement of rape cases in villages only encourages the potential offenders to commit more crimes. Such illegal and anti-social practice must be eradicated as this will only increase rape cases no matter how tough the laws are. According to the news report of this daily, in the last five years, 11,000 cases of rape were registered and over 5,000 victims are girls. Since the rape and murder of Nirmala, around 3,347 girls are said to have been raped, out of which 17 were killed. In more than 50 per cent of rape cases, the perpetrators were either relatives or acquaintances of the victims. Rape and sexual violence are serious criminal offenses. Convicts face imprisonment of seven to 20 years. But the stringent laws have not dissuaded the rapists from committing the crime. The strict implementation of laws is a must to control this heinous crime.