Govt planning to formulate anti-bullying policy

Kathmandu, August 12

The Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens said it was planning to formulate anti-bullying policy to put an end to all forms of violence against women and children.

According to a future action plan made public by the MoWCSS, it will also enact Anti-corporal Punishment Policy to ensure safety of children. Bullying has a detrimental effect on children’s development and can expose them to trauma, abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence.

A Knowledge, Attitude and Practices survey conducted by the ministry in 2015 shows that bullying is a serious issue. As many as 88.9 per cent of district level education representatives stated that at least some children in their districts were bullied at school on a regular basis. Meanwhile, 61.1 per cent of girls and boys household questionnaire respondents, who have been to school at some stage, indicated that they had experienced physical or psychological peer violence. Bullying of children at school is a major problem.

Psychological bullying and hazing by adults or other children, including via  information  and communication  technologies such as mobile phones and the Internet (known as cyber-bullying) was a form of mental violence against children in South Asia, according to a 2016 UNICEF study.

It warned that easy access to the Internet and the growing popularity  of  camera-equipped smartphones had given rise to cyber-bullying —  harassment  through  email, text messages and social  media.

Similarly, the MoWCSS said it would establish and operate an integrated rehabilitation centre to provide integrated service to women and children subjected to violence. “The ministry will also set up a help desk at the central level to receive and redress the grievances of women, children, persons with disabilities and senior citizens. Rapid response teams comprising representatives from civil society, teachers and journalists will be formed for immediate rescue and protection of victim women and children,” it informed, adding well-furnished old age homes will be established in all provinces.

The MoWCSS said it would work in coordination with transport entrepreneurs with a view to ensure safety of women passengers on public transport. Public vehicles  are usually overcrowded, providing the molesters with ample opportunities to sexually harass women. Existing laws define sexual assault as any form of sexual contact or activity like touching, tapping and showing sexually explicit pictures or movies without one’s consent. Last year, plainclothes cops deployed for sting operation had arrested over 80 persons for sexually harassing female passengers on public transport.