Sex and the City

Fifty per cent of around 4,000 women employed in over 1,000 cabin restaurants and dance bars in the Valley are sexually harassed, says a report made public by the National Human Rights Commission Friday. Most women in restaurant business are aged 14-19 years, and they form the bulk of girls trafficked to India every year. This is a clear indication that despite the astounding success of women-empowerment movement, so much more needs to be done to make the country a safe and secure place for all Nepali women.

What is most amazing about the flesh trade in the capital is that it is so conspicuous. Billboards of half-naked women atop dingy cabin restaurants are perhaps the most common feature of most neighbourhoods in Kathmandu. Yet law enforcement bodies seem to be doing very little about it. News reports of police officers accepting bribes to overlook the unseemly activities have become common. Cabin restaurants should be restricted to limited areas so that the sight of flesh does not greet Kathmandu denizens and tourists wherever they go. The government should step in to ensure that cabin restaurants do not carry on activities prohibited by law, but any action should be taken only on clear evidence that restaurants operators are plying illegal or immoral trade. Any vagueness in the law should be removed, so that restaurant owners may know clearly what they can do and what they cannot.