Stakeholders have urged the government to ratify Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No 190).

Addressing an interaction organised by Forum for Women, Law and Development here today, member of the House of Representative Binda Pandey said ILO Convention 190 was a comprehensive convention that encompassed both formal and informal sectors and took care of the mental and economic toll that sexual violence and harassment took on victims, particularly working girls.

She said the government and the ruling and opposition parties must have political will to adopt the convention.

Pandey said the government had already made basic preparation for the new convention by making anti-sexual harassment laws and some other relevant laws, and hence it would not have to make huge preparation for adoption of the convention.

Executive Director of FWLD Advocate Sabin Shrestha said some basic laws had already been enacted by the government to deal with sexual violence and harassment at the workplace, but those laws were far from enough and adopting the new ILO Convention 190 would address lacunae in Nepal's relevant laws.

He said the Sexual Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (190) not only encompassed formal and informal work place, the journey from and to work places also made the employer responsible.

"Male co-workers repeatedly molested female co-workers at a carpet factory in Biratnagar when the lights went out and when the victims' complained to the management, the managers would tell the victims that they would take action against the victims but they had to catch them red-handed," Shrestha said and added that the new convention would address such a situation as it also placed responsibility on the employer to do enough to ensure safe environment at the work place. He said there were only two cases filed under the anti-sexual harassment law in the last seven years, which meant that the law was not enough to deal with problems of sexual harassment and violence at the work place.

Under-secretary at the Prime Minister's Office Shradha Rijal said the government was still studying the responsibilities that it would have to shoulder after ratifying the convention. The government sees the convention as an important international instrument that covers both formal and informal sectors, and also the mental and economic sufferings that victims of sexual violence and harassment often go through, she added.

A version of this article appears in the print on November 10, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.