Crime & Justice

Hundreds protest in Nepal after model alleges sexual assault

Kathmandu, May 20 (EFE).- Hundreds of people on Friday protested on the issue of sexual violence against women in Nepal after a model alleged that she had been repeatedly subjected to sexual assault by organizers of an event when she was 16.

“I was called to a hotel room and raped,” Sushmita Regmi recently said through video-sharing app TikTok, sharing dozens of videos over the last few days in which she accused the organizers of the Miss Global International beauty pageant of raping her in 2014, when she was 16.

Regmi alleged that the organizers blackmailed her with videos and photos and continued to sexually abuse her for months.

She said in subsequent TikTok videos that she was again sexually assaulted by another man when she went to a modelling agency.

In her latest video shared on TikTok on Thursday, the young woman breaks down while explaining that Nepali law puts a one year limit for survivors to report rape cases.

Protesters chanted slogans against rape and sexual violence in a protest outside Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s residence in Kathmandu.

The protest is reminiscent of “Occupy Baluwatar,” – a name referring to the Kathmandu district where Deuba’s residence is situated – a peaceful demonstration in 2013 that called for government measures against gender-based violence.

Lawyer and former member of the National Human Rights Commission, Mohna Ansari, confirmed to EFE that Nepali law only allowed a period of 365 days for rape survivors to lodge a complaint.

“But this is a different case. This is a case where a girl is held hostage and abused repetitively,” she added.

Nepal police spokesperson Bishnu Kumar told EFE that they would investigate the allegations “if the victim registers a formal case.”

Amid a general perception of the judiciary failing survivors of sexual abuse, South Asia has witnessed growing public anger against structural discrimination and neglect of the issue, as per a report released by nonprofit Equality Now in April 2021.

As per the document, Nepal registered 2,144 rape cases between July 2019 and June 2020, with human rights activists highlighting that in the majority of the cases the perpetrators were men from the upper strata of the caste system, while their victims were women and girls from the marginalized communities. EFE


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