Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Thousands of people of all religions, ages and social backgrounds demonstrated in the capital yesterday against the rape and death of a six-year-old girl.
Puja Sah, from Bara District (southern Nepal), was raped by 28-year old Kanhai Gupta, on 20 February.
She was found unconscious and admitted to hospital in Kanti, but passed away on 10 March as a result of the traumas she suffered.
Such a crime has been met by widespread condemnation throughout the country. More and more people are calling on the government to pass legislation that would impose life in prison on convicted rapists and confiscate all their property.
Fr Bill Robins SJ, former provincial of the Jesuits in Nepal, took part in the march. "It is hard to believe that a six-year-old girl can be raped," he said.
"Sexual violence and other crimes are increasing in a society that is increasingly devoid of spirituality. The government and society should give more emphasis to the spiritual sphere."
Several human rights groups have announced various protests, until the culprit is convicted.
Some Nepalis have called on Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to execute the attacker by hanging.
"Nepal does not have the death penalty for rapists, but I promise that he will be get the maximum sentence," Nepal's prime minister said.
Under the Criminal Code of Nepal, a rapist can get 10 to 15 years in prison if the victim is under 10; 10 years if the victim is between 11 and 14 years; 6 to 10 years in prison if the victim is between 14 and 16 years; between 5 and 8 years if the victim is under 20; and between 5 and 7 years if he or she is older than 20.
"My daughter has become a victim," said Badri Narayan Sah, the dead child's father. "The government needs to implement new laws to protect this country's daughters."
"We shall not perform the funeral rite until the authorities assure us that the rapists will face life in prison and confiscation of their property," he added
According to official police figures, at least two or three cases of rape are recorded every week in Nepal.
However, more often than not rapes go unreported and therefore the numbers could be much higher.