Kathmandu: Does it belong to women too?

 

Nepal Kathmandu women crowding into busResearch (very little) has shown that high levels of women experience harassment in public transport (Saathi’s research in 1994 and ActionAid International’s research in 2011). Little research ha  been conducted in this issue. HomeNet Nepal, Nepal Mahila Ekata Samaj and ActionAid International Nepal conducted a first comparative study showing gender impact of violence in public transport. They believe that conducting a participatory Safety Audit focusing on safety issues for poor (squatter and informal sector working) women using public transport (including buses, micro mini-vans and taxis) will not only highlight a very important safety concern for these women, but fill a knowledge gap which can be used to lobby for safer environments for women as regards to their everyday use of transport.

According to the research, the cultural values, acceptance, weak infrastructure with poor signage and road with government’s limited attention and knowledge has supported in perpetrating violence especially in public transport. We also found out that girls and women, to protect themselves and also to come out of such violence and insecurity, have generated their own noble protection mechanisms/strategies like carrying safety pins to pinch on men who come unnecessarily close, carry their bags in front covering their bosom and such.

Research also showed that as women have to endure all these, they experience several consequences from negative psychological impact including lowered confidence and self-esteem, feelings of blame, frustration and mistrust or hate of men to losing their concentration, productivity in the work places, education and such.

Thus, the present context calls for deeper understanding, information and analysis for informed advocacy work along with some immediate public awareness raising work to bring women out of fearing of fear and some dialogue around it with the authoritative institutions and entities.

To address the above issues, Safe city campaign 2012 has been initiated jointly by HomeNet Nepal, Nepal Mahila Ekata Samaj, Rastriya Mahila Adhikar Manch, Activista and ActionAid International Nepal. We have also joined our efforts with Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Latitpur municipality, Trade Unions (GEFONT and NTUC), Traffic police department, Municipality Police, Community Police, Transport Enterpreneurs, Transport drivers, UNHabitat, Department of Urban Development . Having completed the first phase of the campaign, i.e safety audit (evidence collection) and various dialogues, we have moved forward to the second phase. The second phase is concentrated on mass conscientisation and policy advocacy through various activities.

We have joined our voices to say “It’s enough! Zero Tolerance to Violence against women and girls in public transportation!!” And we believe that “Change is possible!”

If you feel the same you are welcome to join us!!  http://www.facebook.com/asafecity/info

– Published on Nov 20, 2012

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