Thursday, 29 September, 2022

Growing disappearances of women raise concerns


By Basanta Parajuli
Bharatpur, July 21: Bina Sapkota, a resident of Gaindakot, went missing from Bharatpur three weeks ago. As per her father, Jayeshwor Sapkota, he hasn’t heard anything regarding her whereabouts since June 28, the day Bina left her home with her boyfriend Pravesh.
“Bina left home on a scooter as Pravesh assured to bring her back within a couple of hours. But she has not returned since then,” said Jayeshwor.
Police arrested Pravesh after receiving a complaint about Bina’s disappearance. According to police, Pravesh has been claiming that Bina got lost suddenly from Chaubiskothi, Bharatpur.
“I went to an ATM to withdraw money. When I came back, she wasn’t there. Her mobile was with me,” said Pravesh in his statement.
The death of 23-year-old Sujita Bhandari in Ward No. 3 of Rapti Municipality has turned more mysterious. Sujita had gone missing from her house on June 25 and was out of contact till July 4 when her body was found in the bushes of Brahmasthani Community Forest, around four kilometres away from her house.
Her mother, Ambika Bhandari, has claimed that Sujita was abducted and murdered.
“After Sujita went missing, she called her sister, Kabita, and informed that she was kidnapped,” said Ambika.
However, organising a press conference on July 8, Superintendent of Police (SP), Om Prasad Adhikari, informed that the case of Sujita didn’t relate with the ones in abduction citing that they couldn’t find any clue to why she was abducted.
“There was no evidence showing that it was a case of kidnapping. An abducted individual also can’t talk to the relatives on phone so easily,” said SP Adhikari, chief of Chitwan District Police Office.
The autopsy report received from Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) Kathmandu also

showed no sign of external injuries and there was no sign of sexual assault.
The police have now requested for a viscera report of Sujita to examine the internal organs following Sujita’s family member’s continuing suspicion of abduction and murder.
These two are only representative incidents of Chitwan. In the fiscal year 2020/21, 208 women aged above 18 years went missing from different parts of Chitwan. Among them, 178 were found later.
Likewise, in 2019/20, altogether 237 women went missing and 232 of them were found, according to data of Chitwan District Police Office.
The number of missing women is also similar to that in the case of children. A total of 79 children aged below 18 years went missing in 2020/21 and 74 of them were found.
While the record of missing persons shows that a worrying number of women and children go missing every year, activists argue that there are also several cases which don’t get registered in the police.
“The data with police are of the people whose relatives came and filed a missing complaint. However, there are still cases which don’t reach the police and there are none to help them out,” said Phulmaya Ranabhat, an advocate working in the sector of women rights.
“There are also families who don’t complain with the police fearing that their prestige would be compromised if the public know about the incidents,” said Ranabhat.
Police officers also admitted that not all cases of missing get reported.
“It is true that not all missing cases get registered but the number of people reporting the missing cases have increased over the years. The cases where a married woman runs away with someone else and the ones who go abroad without permission from the family are not registered,” said Police Inspector Kamala Maral, chief at the Women and Children Cell of Chitwan Police.
Talking to The Rising Nepal, Ranabhat also stated that many women who go missing either get married to someone or are at risk of human trafficking and abduction. “There have been cases where missing women are found stranded in the Gulf countries. Many organisations are helping such women to get repatriated to Nepal safely.”
As per the activists, in any case where a child or woman goes missing, the family must register a complaint with the police as it would help them identify at least whether their kins are safe or not.