Hotline for victims of sexual harassment

Kathmandu, September 15

With a view to ensure safety of women passengers on public transport in Kathmandu Valley, Metropolitan Police Office has launched a helpline for them to report sexual harassment.

“Any woman who comes across persons making unwanted sexual advances towards them while travelling in public bus may call police hotline (100) or 9851289111,” read a press release issued by MPO. It also assured that the identity of the complainants would be protected while initiating legal action against the perpetrators.

MPO informed that sexual abuse complaints reported by women would be dealt with seriously and law enforcement officials would reach the spot to protect the victims.

“We encourage women to call 100 or 9851289111 if they are sexually harassed by male passengers and others,” it said.

At the same time, MPO, in association with community service centres and transport entrepreneurs, has given continuity to the sting operation named ‘Safety Pin Campaign’ to discourage sexual harassment on public transport. It was launched on August 2.

As many as 33 teams of plainclothes cops and volunteers deployed for the sting operation have arrested as may as 71 persons (31 from Kathmandu and two each from Lalitpur and Bhaktapur) for molesting female passengers on public transport during the period.

Statistics released by MPO said 24 suspects are facing charges under the Some Public (Crime and Punishment) Act, 1970, which criminalises an insult women in a public place. Others were handed over to their next of kin with warning. Most of the offenders are literate while one is master’’s degree student. Persons aged between 15 and 25 tops the chart of offenders.

Many women and teenagers using public transport often face sexual harassment, but most cases go unreported, police said. Public vehicles in the Valley 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.