A Rampant Problem With No Apparent Solution: Sexual Harassment in Public Transportation

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Sexual harassment has a deeper meaning than the words that make it up. It comes unnoticed in the form of sexual behavior that’s offensive, humiliating, and intimidating. Ironically, it has been going on for a long time in Nepal’s public transportation. Only a few victims have chosen to speak up. However, the majority of victims, especially women, suffer in silence. This demonstrates how sexual harassment in public transportation is a rampant problem in Nepal with no apparent solution.

Sexual Harassment and Victim-Blaming Mindset

Obviously, sexual harassment in public transportation was never a new topic. Many people still get harassed in public transportation on a daily basis. We, Nepalis often forget that sexual harassment doesn’t only mean groping, pinching, or sexual comments. But it also includes teasing, staring, winking, spreading sexual rumors, etc. It is a much broader term than sexual assaults.

Often the reality is harsh for the victims of sexual harassment due to the victim-blaming mindset of society. Maybe we have become too numb due to the daily dose of sexual harassment cases that we forgot how sensitive this topic is. Victims would have spoken about it in the place they were harassed if this mindset was lifted. Possible actions could have been taken immediately. They wouldn’t have to suppress their voices because of hassles and consequences once they open up about the issues. It just becomes a gossip of the day, and even if they muster the confidence to speak up, the flame will die out at the end of the day.

Sexual Harassment Cases the New Hot Potato for Media Outlets

Back-to-back sexual harassment in public transportation has been recorded and shared on online platforms. However, those cases never got the light they needed after a certain span of time. Also, the concerned authorities never learn about it because they are always late. Those cases become a game of hot potato, passed from one media outlet to another. Sadly, no one dares to pick it up when it is dropped. Rather a fresh, new potato gets in the limelight, begins to be passed and this loop seems to never cease.

A woman who was a victim of sexual harassment on public transportation recently spoke up about her experience and the agony she endured. As soon as the video surfaced, Nepali news portals were able to cover the story on time. They got the engagement they needed and gladly the victim’s voices were heard. However, justice was never provided to her, as her voice got lost among the echoes of protestors in the online news outlets.

“Justice delayed is justice denied” echoing this statement many popular online media portals expressed their support for victims of sexual harassment cases. However, it appears that their voice has faded, and there will be no further updates on the matter. The entire nation was left in the dark as a result of this.

Is Reserved Seats for Women Really a Solution?

Even though most public vehicles have designated seats for women, this is insufficient to prevent sexual harassment. While this is a sad reality it appears that for the time being, this is the only option for women to be protected. Every existing public transportation is busy in the race to get their vehicle fully packed often oblivious to sexual harassment that is taking place. With this, they bring a lot of sexual predators into the crowds, and we Nepalis are equally guilty for stating “bhid ma ali ali vaihalcha ni“. This demonstrates that using public buses on a daily basis in Nepal will not protect a person from any harassment.

Men will constantly doubt the presence of the mahila reserved seat in this patriarchal society, which mocks women’s protection in general. Due to a lack of monitoring and knowledge, women must fight for their right to a reserved seat. However, to the question of sexual harassment in public transportation, this seems the only way out.

a packed bus

There are a number of emerging solutions to the problem of sexual harassment, but none of them appears to be totally effective. There would have been fewer occurrences of sexual harassment if there had been some changes in the victim-blaming mindset or a proper law regulating women’s protection in public transportation. However, the sexual harassment case appears to be a heated mess, from media outlets to reserved seats for women.

Also Read: Second Wave of #MeToo Movement in Nepal Highlights Everything Wrong With Nepal’s Legal System

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Anjali Magar

I am but a wandering frustrated youth that you could have run into just about anywhere.

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