Kathmandu: A case of alleged sexual abuse of a woman triggers rage against rape in Nepal. On Wednesday evening, several videos from a young woman appeared on Tiktok where she shared her story of how she was assaulted and abused by an unnamed person who was the organizer of a beauty pageant in which she had participated around 2014.
The videos, which have gone viral on social media, have exposed how the victims of sexual abuse are forced to stay silent for years fearing reprisal and lack of faith in the justice system.
In her videos, she mentions how she had contacted Miss Nepal 2002 and TV/public personality Malvika Subba for help and how she was allegedly told by Subba that it was her personal problem and she had to “deal with it” on her own. Subba, who has been very outspoken on gender issues, has faced severe backlash after news of this came out.
The victim’s account
In a series of 20 videos, the victim provides a detailed account of how she was tricked into rape.
The victim, who was at her 16 at the time of the incident, says in the videos that she had been drugged and raped when she was supposed to be attending a celebration event for her first runner-up position in the pageant. Her abuser allegedly manipulated and gaslighted her and went on to further abuse her for six months, she claims.
When the victim finally confronted her abuser and contacted Subba, who was a choreographer of the pagent, she was allegedly told by Subba that “you being raped is your problem, not mine”. The victim, who had idolized Subba for a long time, said in her videos that it made her feel invalidated and trivialized.
The victim also reveals that the abuser had threatened to make public her naked photos and videos if she reported the incident. The abuser kept abusing her for another six months by blackmailing her with the same photos and videos, claims the victim.
Malvika Subba apologizes
Subba has recently released a lengthy statement on social media acknowledging the issue and apologizing for not taking a stand for the victim. In her statement she said, “You have every right to be angry with me and I deserve all the hate that I am getting because I truly failed you.”
She also says in the statement “I don’t recall you mentioning the word ‘rape’ or me reacting the way you are talking about” but she also mentions that she trusts the victim’s claims.
Addressing the public, Subba said “None of us can imagine what she is going through at this time and what she has gone through all these years. I want to kindly ask all of us to listen to her and give her the support she seeks and wants, and not the support we think she needs.”
There have been calls from people from various walks of life to bring the perpetrators to book and provide justice to the victim. Social media platforms are full of posts and statements demanding justice for the victim.
The backlash against Subba has been swift because of her social activism and the fact that she has been very outspoken against child abuse and sexual violence against women. Many say that this controversy has revealed how hollow activism can be, and how women claiming to be feminists can also be the ones who choose to not believe or ignore claims and cases of women being sexually abused.
Subba has also said that she is willing to withdraw from any feminism and sexual violence platforms if it helps the victim’s recovery from all the traumatic experiences she has had to endure.
Call for justice
Meanwhile, there have been calls from people from various walks of life to bring the perpetrators to book and provide justice to the victim. Social media platforms are full of posts and statements demanding justice for the victim.
Nirmala Dhakal, a sociologist, tweeted: “Why forgive Malvika Subba? Even in the current situation, children cannot breathe freely because of these real criminals who can blow the trumpet about women’s violence and rights in five-star hotels but are so low in real life. All these criminals must stand in the court of society.”
Miss Nepal World 2018 Shrinkhala Khatiwada also addressed the victim in a tweet saying “Your voice has empowered many survivors who had been suffering in silence and had lost hope of justice. I hope you get your justice and hope the abusers and enablers pay their price. I will pray for you to heal.”
Subina Shrestha, a popular journalist, and filmmaker also spoke up on the issue, tweeting “Abuse of power comes as no surprise, but it is always a disappointment when those who are responsible for holding truth to power abuse their power. Shame on the photojournalist who raped this young girl. Shame on his friend who raped her as well.”