Dikshya Koirala 9 February 2019
Sexual manifestation and desires developed towards prepubescent children are known as pedophilia. The term pedophilia, though legally not recognized as a crime, predictably involves the commission of a crime such as sexual assault, indecency or offenses relating to children.
The sexual abuse of children has been one of the least understood crimes. In all forms of heinous crimes, including rapes, sexual assault, human trafficking or murder, the number of child victims has been disproportionately high in Nepal. Children are often targeted because of their resistance towards the criminal and their vulnerability. Moreover, society at large finds it difficult to accept the existence of such people within the community who systematically prey on vulnerable children. As a consequence, child abuse has been surrounded by a culture of denial. It is also a fact that in a war-torn State crime against children are exceptionally high as the State and social structure are to be built after conflict.
In Nepal with extreme physical pressure and poverty, the situation is worse. One such crucial criminal issue which is not in the limelight is pedophilia. The media focuses mostly on domestic abuse, as the possibility of the occurrence of child prostitution has not been widely considered.
Tourism in a developing country like Nepal is an essential factor for economic development which brings foreign exchange into the country. However, some of these visitors are not only attached to tourism activity. The country has been attracting a large number of tourists – pedophiles who come solely to gratify their sexual need for young children.
The nexus between child prostitution and the tourism industry is no more a hazy domain. If looked at the recognition, the state of pedophilia is dreary. The Nepalese cultural perspective towards tourists is very righteous as they take them on par with God and believe that what they do cannot be wrong and if they do consider something wrong, then they question their acts rather than that of the tourists.
Moreover, nor is the governmental initiative noteworthy, neither the media has created much impact. When looked at national print media in different timelines, analyzing the articles of 2003 and 2019, it is noticed that in the earlier years there was an unawareness of the police as well as activists working in this sector vis-à-vis the amendment made to the criminal code regarding pedophilia; however, the latter reiterates the efforts of the investigation bureau in catching offenders in such incidents.
Though there has been some improvement in the investigation and conviction process over the years, Nepal still lacks behind as the media mentions that a large portion of this crime is still hidden and, worse of all, still spreading. There still are some factors that have not changed over the years as a large number of pedophiles even come to Nepal with the sole purpose of gratifying their sexual desire in the name of humanitarian work. As Nepal is an accessible and affordable tourist destination, this coupled with the unawareness amongst the people due to illiteracy leads to the offenders exploiting this to their maximum benefit. Also, it can be seen that international media has covered the issue of pedophilia with specific scientific research and also policy-related issues in developed countries. There is also in-depth media coverage on the studies of pedophilia in developed countries or even second world countries; however, in the context of Nepal, there is no substantial research done.
Moreover, the articles published in the international media regarding the Nepalese context is also written by Nepalese writers with almost all the work starting by presenting an incident, how the offender was convicted and the necessary information on the law present and the amendments which have been a common factor. The domestic articles, written in the local language present the writings from a localized perspective and culturally suitable manner. They also tackle the issue of how cases of child molestation have become ingrained in our society since time immemorial and have been a taboo to even talk about it. Children are assaulted inside their family itself; to an extent where that in some cases the father himself was an offender. The main argument of almost all of the media sources in Nepal is similar: the government and other authorities do not have the necessary mechanism to solve this wicked problem. The investigation standards and technology used is not on par, and so the offenders use this to their benefit.
Moreover, the media has only focused on pedophilia concerning foreign offenders. Instead of being fixated on the term “pedophile” the act itself should be of the primary concern. Also looking at the broader picture pedophilia is an important issue which has not been given much attention by both the media and the authorities, and it should be in the limelight.