Stop blaming the rape survivors, speak up for justice

Victim blaming only encourages the perpetrators. Let’s stop normalizing even the slightest hint of assault. Let’s stand up against the perpetrators, our silence further emboldens them.

Shreena Nepal

  • Read Time 4 min.

Another day, another story, same so-called influencers, and idols asking for justice on social media. And what next? The story is forgotten and then comes another story and the cycle repeats. The level of hypocrisy that we have been carrying out shows that we have failed as a society. It’s extremely disturbing to acknowledge that people who call themselves activists and organize such programs act differently when the real victims approach them for help or justice. It makes all of us wonder how many of the proclaimed activists are of the same nature. There’s another hypocrisy seen in other celebrities, defending and masking their beloved friends by giving diplomatic answers. Those so-called influencers keep double standards because we have failed as humans.

“Such things are normal in the entertainment field.” This is what I’ve been hearing whenever the news of someone being harassed from a particular field becomes public. But then it is just another absurd reason to shift the blame from the perpetrator. We should stop normalizing such inhuman behavior. We all have heard of harassment in all kinds of workplaces. We all have somehow witnessed the abuse of power by the higher authority.

I have been deeply disturbed, unsettled, and enraged by the recent case of sexual abuse of a girl.  According to her, she was raped by the very person who was supposed to be her mentor and protector. And when she approached a person, who was supposed to be her guardian and support her in such a situation, the person (a woman) refused to help her out. 

After hearing this story my mother proudly said: “This is the reason why I’ve always been so protective of you. I did it for your safety”. Perhaps the implication in this statement is that I should just stay inside of my house if I have to stay safe. But haven’t we heard incidents that happened inside the houses and rooms of the victims? So I should have someone (men) around me as my protector? What if the so-called protector becomes the one who assaults and abuses?  So we women need to be protected by men from men? What if the women whom we look up for our protection themselves stay silent when we are exposed to abuses?

According to the police report, 1,665 rape cases were filed in 2020-21, out of which 1,016 victims were between the age of 11 to 16 and 305 were under the age of 10. These were the cases that were reported. I just wonder how many cases went unreported in the name of prestige, how many didn’t even utter a word because of the fear of being blamed, how many of them didn’t even survive to ask for justice, how many of them were forced into silence by offering inducements of positions, power, and money?

The statute of limitation for rape in Nepal is just one year. This needs to be extended. There should be a provision where the victim can file cases against the perpetrators at any time. 

It enrages me when the people report “she was raped” or “she was abused.” Such statements clearly exclude the perpetrators from this inhuman act. By saying this, I’m not blaming all men but can you show me a woman who hasn’t faced any kind of assault in her life? I saw someone writing “obviously not all men but all women”, which is completely true. We’ve heard the stories of priests assaulting women inside the temples, we’ve heard the stories of teachers assaulting female students in the institutions, we’ve heard the stories of employers assaulting the female employees in the workplace and we’ve heard the stories of father figures assaulting daughter figures inside the houses.

So it is not true that homes, offices, and schools are safe for all girls and women. 

So basically all those “for your safety” reasons are the masks to hide the real perpetrators and shift the blame to the survivors saying, “you should have been more careful”. The paradox is victims are expected to stay inside the houses, silent, while the perpetrators walk free.  

My “right to dignified life” guaranteed by the constitution has been violated again and again. Though the access to media has increased, though the immense number of activists, and organizations have been working and speaking up for justice, nothing has changed. Instead, violence against women, including rape, has been increasing.

Thus we must stop blaming the survivors. The pain is not just physical–the trauma, the mental pain remains forever with the survivors.

One doesn’t have to become the so-called feminist to hear the victims. As a human, as a society, we can, and must, hear their stories and help them in whatever way we can. Victim blaming only encourages the perpetrators. Let’s stop normalizing even the slightest hint of assault. If you see someone suffering put some effort to stand up against the perpetrators because silence further motivates and encourages them. 

The statute of limitation for rape in Nepal is just one year. This clearly needs to be extended. With appropriate evidence, there should be a provision where the victim can register and file the cases against the perpetrators at any time. 

Then we need to boycott all those hypocrites and the so-called influencers who pretend to work for the protection of girls and women but who actually do not.

For enough is enough.

Shreena Nepal is studying BA LLB at Kathmandu School of Law.