Cops face vendors’ gender hurdle

Kathmandu, May 21:

Growing number of women street vendors and hawkers has added to the woes of male cops of the Lalitpur City Police in controlling encroachment.

Efforts of the municipality and locals to keep the street business under control in main hubs like Mangal Bazaar and Lagankhel have not been able to get desired results.

The Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City has 23 City Police personnel, all of them men, while seven posts are yet to be filled. Almost 90 per cent of the street vendors and hawkers are women but the City Police, which is responsible to keep the streets free from crowds has only male cops, said inspector of the Lalitpur City Police Kadam Lal Maharjan.

Generally, the cops from the City Police try to control the vendors by confiscating their goods and penalise them later for encroaching on the streets. “Many vendors and hawkers flee on sight of cops. Often the act of confiscating the goods results in minor scuffles.

Had there been women in the City Police it would have been easier to get hold of women vendors,” Maharjan said.

At times, when male cops try to confiscate the goods from women vendors, the latter charge the police with manhandling and even sexual assault.

Maharjan recalled a three-year-old incident whereby a woman vendor had lodged a plaint at Mangal Bazaar Police Station accusing a male cop of rough handling when he tried to seize the goods she had laid on the street. He said the LSMC should recruit women as well in the City Police.

However, LSMC officials said there was no immediate plan for any fresh recruitment.

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City has 19 women out of 195 City Police personnel. Dhanpati Sapkota, chief of implementing division at KMC, said women City Police personnel make the job of controlling the encroachment of streets by women vendors easier.