A girl is scared to walk alone in an empty galli which leads to her home. Another girl thinks twice before getting into a crowded microbus.
Elsewhere, a guy perched on the street railing whistles to a group of schoolgirls passing by, and another guy passes lewd comments to a girl in some other part of town. How long should the girls endure such situations, be it as receivers or just bystanders?
Most importantly, how many times have we taken control of the situation when a man in his 50s feels up a schoolgirl? Frustrated by perversion all around, my three friends and I rolled up our sleeves and that’s how Walk for Respect came along.
The movement solely intends to help impart the message that eve-teasing and sexual harassment of any form is a punishable offense.
The Public Offenses and Penalties Act, 1970, defines any activity as sexual harassment when unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment.
Unfortunately, the majority of people are unaware of the prevalent provisions against this; in fact, Nepal has even recognized teasing (eve-teasing) as a public offense.
Such offence can be penalized, depending upon the gravity of case, with a fine of up to Rs 10,000 and in some cases detention and imprisonment for a certain period.
One of the main objectives of our movement is to sensitize people and the community about these issues. It could help instill courage in people to fight back against perversion and convince everyone that fighting back is the only option and the right thing to do.
Many people have shown solidarity and are enthusiastic about the movement which started online via a Facebook group – Facebook.com/groups/slutwalknepal.
Within three days, our online presence had garnered some 1,400 members. Walk for Respect gets its inspiration from the global Slutwalk Movement and hence the adaptation, to acknowledge the movement.
Overwhelmed by the response and the urgency in people’s posts online, we thought we should do something soon to capitalize on the growing number of members and their enthusiasm, should it deplete gradually as in most online activism cases.
Although the initial idea behind the walk was to defy the idea that the clothing of women encourages rapes, realizing that the issue of eve teasing and sexual harassment in public places was more contextual to Nepal, we slightly changed our theme and name.
The tempo and microbus park outside the NAC Building on Kanti Path/New Road Gate is the central hub of Kathmandu’s inner public transportation. Sadly, it is also the centre for sexual harassment and eve teasing and that’s the reason we chose the location to start the walk.
The walk will conclude in Kathmandu Durbar Square where celebrities, musicians and slam poets will join us to help spread the word.
Walk for Respect is definitely inclined towards the feminine side but we want to address harassment on males as well.
Everyday, almost every woman in this country is harassed or teased. Worse still is that rarely does a woman stand up and speak against the misdemeanor, and when she does, she’s instead blamed for inciting harassment.
Eve-teasing is an established culture among teenagers here, and most of them are ignorant of the laws and that the deed is punishable by law. The walk intends to raise awareness and encourage women to speak up and to help end this deep-seated misbehavior within the society.
Walk for Respect starts at 1 pm from NAC (previously RNAC) Building and ends at Basantpur on Saturday, April 28, 2012. For details, visit facebook.com/groups/slutwalknepal.
The writer is an A-Level graduate from Trinity College and is the founder of Wind of Change which has currently been giving presentations in schools on the issues of human trafficking. He believes change comes from within.