KATHMANDU (AFP) – Nepal must scrap a 35-day time limit for reporting rapes that prevents victims from seeking justice, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday in a report on wartime sexual violence in the Himalayan nation.
Both sides in Nepal’s 1996-2006 civil war between Maoist guerrillas and the state were accused of serious human rights violations including rape, but no one has yet been prosecuted.
The report is based on the testimonies of more than 50 women – some were just schoolgirls when they were attacked. It calls for the government to revise its 35-day time limit and to provide reparations to victims.
“For more than 10 years already, these women have suffered in silence and fear while the perpetrators have walked free,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Justice and reparations for women who suffered sexual assault is long overdue unfinished business from the civil war.”
Nepal is in the process of setting up two commissions to investigate wartime crimes and heal wounds from the conflict.
Although lawmakers have barred the commissions from offering amnesty in cases of sexual violence, HRW warned that unless the statute of limitations is overturned, enabling investigations of wartime rapes, victims will not have access to justice.