June 15, 2020 / 4:20 PM / a month ago

Nepal arrests three men for quarantine rape, amid protests over unsafe conditions

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Police in Nepal arrested three men on suspicion of gang raping a woman quarantined alone in an empty school, a case that has added to public anger over unsafe conditions for thousands of migrant workers forced into confinement over the coronavirus.

Nepal requires those arriving from abroad to spend 14 days in quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease. But activists say the converted schools and other buildings used for the purpose are often unsafe, putting tens of thousands of migrant workers at risk.

Police fired water cannons, charged with batons and lobbed teargas shells to break up protests in Kathmandu last week demanding better quarantine facilities.

In the latest case, police said the 31-year-old woman, a migrant worker returning home from India’s tech hub of Bengaluru, was attacked after she was left alone in the quarantine center in Lamkichuha, a village 430 km (230 miles) southwest of capital Kathmandu.

The men forced their way into her room, Superintendent of Police Anup Shumsher J.B. Rana said by phone from Kailali district, where the quarantine center is located.

“We have arrested one health worker and two volunteers looking after the quarantine (center) after the woman complained that she was gang raped by them,” Rana said, adding that police were investigating the case.

The woman, whom police did not name, was now with her family, Rana added. On Sunday, about 150 locals protested near the quarantine center demanding action against the three men.

Reuters was not able to contact the men. A local police official, Gyanendra Bahadur Pandey, said they did not have lawyers yet.

The government says it is committed to improving facilities. Nepal reported 6,211 cases coronavirus and 19 deaths as of Monday.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Alexandra Ulmer and Peter Graff

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