Garnering global support for a gang rape victim in Nepal

August 21, 2013 | Donor Direct Action


In 2011, Donor Direct Action issued our very first urgent appeal to help a Nepali Buddhist nun who was brutally gang raped on a bus. On June 24, 2011, the 21-year-old was traveling to visit her family in far eastern Nepal and was raped when she was forced to spend the night on the bus halted by flooding. The driver and four other men from the bus company gang-raped her until she lost consciousness. She spent several weeks hospitalized across the border in India before returning to Nepal, having suffered physical injuries and psychological trauma. The case, though registered with police, became stalled—giving rise to fears of corruption. Meanwhile, the bus company agitated for release of its men.

Nepal’s Buddhist organizations condemned the rape but proclaimed that the survivor could no longer be a nun nor return to the nunnery—her only home since age 12—because she was now impure. The Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) came to the aid of then nun, legally representing her and mobilizing the global women’s movement on her behalf. Their alerts inspired international public outrage, and the local Buddhist organizations reversed their position.

Nepal’s Buddhist organizations condemned the rape but proclaimed that the survivor could no longer be a nun nor return to the nunnery, because she was now impure.

The nun’s family had to take out a loan to cover her medical expenses. Additional funds were needed for continued treatment, as well as legal representation and travel expenses from Kathmandu back to the remote part of the country where the case would be heard in court. Donor Direct Action issued an urgent fundraising appeal to help FWLD pursue the case and support the victim. Within days we received an outpouring of donations from around the world which were wired immediately to FWLD. FWLD Founder Sapana Pradhan Malla and Nepali “singing nun” Ani Choying Drolma visited the victim and delivered the funds that Donor Direct Action had raised on her behalf.

On 9 January 2012, at the final court hearing against the bus driver and other bus company employees charged with the gang rape the Sankhuwasabha District Court pronounced judgment in favor of the victim, who was represented by FWLD. The court sentenced four of the perpetrators to 12 years of imprisonment and compensation of Rs. 50,000 (Nepali Rupees) each, on charges of rape. The fifth accused was sentenced to six years of imprisonment for attempted rape. All five of the accused were ordered by the Court to equally compensate the victim for the Rs. 130,000 (Nepali Rupees) that they robbed from her.

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