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Bill against harassment stuck in House



KATHMANDU: A bill that imposes punishment and fines on those found sexually harassing co-workers has been stuck in Parliament for the last one year.

The bill on sexual harassment in workplace, especially against women, was proposed by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare in 2010.

The proposed law was part of the ministry’s bid to develop specific legislation to hold employers accountable and recognise sexual harassment as misconduct.

The proposed law, when implemented, would promote a healthy work environment, the ministry said.

“We are waiting for Parliament to approve the bill,” said Sher Jung Karki, under-secretary at the legal section of the ministry.

“The Parliament is yet to give the bill the attention it deserves,” he added. He said legal provisions against sexual harassment in the workplace were an urgent necessity as there is no prevailing law that addresses the problem.

According the bill, any one found sexually harassing co-workers, either verbally or physically, or making gestures or displaying pornography, will be sentenced to up to three months in prison and fined Rs 25,000.

In case of physical injuries to the victim, the perpetrator will also have to bear the treatment cost, the bill proposes.

A person who has been victimised can lodge a complaint with the police or the local body.

Karki said women were more likely to be harassed in workplaces due to various social taboos that deter them from reporting advances made by their male colleagues.

“As a result, women have no option but to live with emotional stress and anxiety. They feel depressed and powerless. Women also sustain physical injuries, in some cases,” said Karki.

Karki held that when offices fail to tackle sexual harassment, it can create tension in workplaces and hamper teamwork. It will affect work performance, and encourage absenteeism, he added.

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