Ram Bahadur BK, 35, of Narayan Municipality-8, Dailekh was arrested for raping a 5-year-old girl a week ago.

Nandaram Bhandari, 61, of Dullu Municipality-8 raped a 17-year-old girl on April 22 under the pretext of shamanistic practice. He has been remanded in custody following a court order and necessary investigation is underway, police said.

The incidents of rape have increased in Karnali recently. During the last three years, 347 rape cases have been registered across the Karnali province and 126 attempted rapes have been committed. According to the Province Police Office, women between the ages of 5 and 60 have been raped. According to the office, there have been 473 incidents of rape and attempt to rape in the last three years.

As many as 70 percent of rape victims are women and adolescents from the Dalit community.

Rape is on the rise due to lack of legal knowledge, poverty, prostitution and excessive consumption of alcohol. Dailekh representative Amar Sunar of Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), a human right NGO, said that most of the rapes were committed by neighbors and relatives. According to Sunar, there were 13 incidents of rape in Dailekh in 2020.

“The perpetrators start bargaining for money to settle the case after a lawsuit is filed, which is why many victims have not been able to get justice,” he said.

In Karnali, the highest number of rape crimes is committed in Surkhet with 175 women and girls raped in the last three years.

“Many incidents are settled in the villages,” said Gopal Rayamajhi, a police inspector at the district police office adding, “But we have taken action against perpetrators in the cases that seek justice through the courts.”

According to Rayamajhi, poor, dalit and disabled women and girls become target of perpetrators more often. According to the Province Police Office, 86 rape cases have been registered in Salyan, 54 in Rukum West, 40 in Jajarkot, 22 in Jumla, 9 in Dolpa, 13 in Mugu, 23 in Kalikot and 4 in Humla this year

“The number of rape cases of economically weaker women and unprotected girls has increased,” said Salyan Police Chief DSP Govinda Thapa.

A 15-year-old girl of Sarada Municipality of Salyan, who had been living in a neighbour’s house when her parents were not at home, was gang-raped on December 23. Police have arrested 22-year-old Manoj Giri and Suresh Basnet on the charge of rape after the relatives of survivor filed a complaint.

Raju KC, 18, of Kumakh-4 had raped a 14-year-old girl of Kumakh village just two weeks prior to above mentioned incident.

There have been 19 incidents of rape cases in Salyan in the first five months of the current fiscal year. Among 19 incidents in the current fiscal year, 15 were raped and 4 were survivors of attempt to rape. Two accused are absconding while necessary legal action has been taken against 17 accused of rape.

According to the District Police Office, there were 26 incidents of rape in the last fiscal year. DSP Thapa said that despite taking legal action against the rapists, rape cases could not be reduced due to various reasons.

The police added that in some cases, consensual sex was termed as rape after couples left each other or when the relatives find out about it.

Sobhita Basnet, a women’s rights activist said, “Some of the incidents have not come out yet as heinous crimes like rape are ‘settled’ outside the court.”

INSEC district representative Meena Budhathoki said that the girls have become more insecure due to the increase in rape cases. She said that rape incidents had field to cease as the behavior of men and women had not changed even though the police and various organizations have conducted several awareness programs in the district.

“Right now, neither women nor children are in a position to say that they’re safe,” said Budhathoki.