Protests against sexual violence are spreading across south Asia as anger following the gang rape and death of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi courses through the region.
Inspired by the rallies and marches staged across India for nearly three weeks, demonstrations have also been held in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh – all countries where activists say women suffer high levels of sexual and domestic violence.
In Nepal, the case of a 21-year-old woman who says she was raped and threatened with death by a police officer and robbed by immigration officials, prompted hundreds of demonstrators to converge on the prime minister’s residence in Kathmandu. They called for legal reforms and an overhaul of attitudes to women.
“We had seen the power of the mass campaign in Delhi’s rape case. It is a pure people’s movement,” said Anita Thapa, one of the demonstrators.
Bandana Rana, a veteran Nepalese activist, described the ongoing protests in Delhi as “eye-opening”. “A few years back, women even talking about sexual violence or even domestic violence was a very rare,” she said.
Sultana Kamal, of the Bangladeshi human rights group Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), said the protests in Delhi had given fresh impetus to protests against sexual violence.