Children and Crime

Rameswor Bohara in Himal Khabarpatrika,

28 October – 11 November

Dhanusha’s Sunita Devi Yadav was alarmed one October night to discover that her seven month old son, Shobhan, was missing. The police were notified, and after a two-week long investigation, they found Shobhan being nursed by Leela Devi Shah in the adjoining district of Siraha.

Leela Devi was desperate to have a son after delivering four daughters, and decided to “buy” a son from kidnappers. She and her accomplices are now in police custody. Nepal Police reported 77 cases of kidnappings across the country in the past year. Most cases were for ransom, and young children were prime targets.

In all forms of heinous crimes, including rapes, sexual assault, human trafficking or murder, the number of child victims is disproportionately high in Nepal. The figures of rape are particularly staggering. Of the 1,480 rapes reported to police in the past year (30% up from the previous year) 64% of victims were below 18. 

Read also: 

Keeping children safe, Sumana Shrestha

Four-fold increase in rape in ten years, Sewa Bhattarai

Nepal Police has started a Community-Police Cooperation program in all 77 districts since October, and spokesperson Uttam Subedi says it was because law enforcers were themselves shocked by the growing number of child victims.

“We realised that the law alone was inadequate, and we need the help of communities, especially schools,” Subedi says. 

There were 876 missing children in the past three months, and 64% have not been traced. Missing children are often assumed to have been trafficked, or sold for their organs. Hemanta Malla Thakuri, who was previously the chief of the investigation unit CBI, says: “The majority of lost children are from poor families. Parents report once, but are not capable of consistently following up. That is why it is hard to find most children.”

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Republic of rape, Editorial

Justice for sale, Tufan Neupane

Criminals often target children because of their vulnerability and since there is little resistance from them. It is easier to convince innocent children not just through fear, but also attracting them with gifts. After the crime, subduing their voice using threats is less challenging than for adults. Anthropologist Suresh Dhakal says children are more distanced from their families these days, and the education system also does not teach children to protect themselves in risky situations.

 Crimes against children are common in war-torn states, and where the social and state structures need to be rebuilt after conflict. Nepal’s own insurgency institutionalised impunity, which is directly reflected in the increased crime rates. The Nirmala Panta rape and murder case is a case study in the ineffectiveness of law enforcement.

With poverty and extreme physical pressures, there have been instances of mothers killing their own children. Taplejung’s Kamala BK drowned her one-year old twin daughters in a toilet in July. Having eloped with a driver from Udayapur at a young age, she had left the house while pregnant.

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Selling sympathy, Bhrikuti Rai

Children of war, Kunda Dixit

Morang’s Amahiki Kabita Yadav had lost her husband two years ago and had been living with Ramdev Jha, whom she introduced to neighbours as her husband. When the two had a fight, she hung her 10- and 5-year old sons and committed suicide herself. Her older son survive because of a loose noose. 

Children are also involved in crimes themselves. In July, a 13-year-old was found with prohibited drugs in Tanahun. In Rupandehi, a 14-year old boy lured a 7-year old girl into his room with chocolates and raped her. Police figures show that in the 2016/17 fiscal year, 7% of rape perpetrators were below 16.

Says Subedi: “With children being victims as well as involved in crimes, it is important for the communities and schools to assist the police.”

Read full report : Himal Khabar

Read also: 

Epicenter of trafficking, Om Astha Rai

Safeguarding children in new Nepal, Kul Chandra gautam

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