KATHMANDU, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Commuting in this urbanized capital city using public transport is no easy feat, especially for women.
This was the message of a flash demonstration organized by Global Platform Nepal here Monday.
The group of youngsters urged the Nepali government and public not to turn a blind eye on sexual harassment which has become rampant in the country's public transport sector.
"Women and girls are facing sexual harassment on a daily basis but they do not speak up. Such abuses are tolerated because victims lack confidence and knowledge on how to fight it," Binita K.C, a social activist, told Xinhua during the flash demonstration.
In Kathmandu, finding a way through a labyrinth of buses and taxis is a daunting task, not to mention the discomfort that one experiences in the journey.
Whatever the mode of transport used, according to a new World Bank report, titled "Gender and Public Transport in Nepal," the No. 1 problem for all commuters is overcrowding. Drivers squeeze every available passenger into their buses for the biggest profits possible.
According to the Department of Transport Management, 1 million people use public transport daily, making this industry a major player in the Nepali economy.
Buses in Kathmandu, especially during rush hours, are always packed, giving some sex-starved individuals chances for inappropriate behavior, such as touching private parts of women passengers.
"Men should think about their sisters or wives before touching a woman. Even from my front seat I usually try to help victims of sexual harassment," Meghraj Khatria, a bus driver, told Xinhua.
According to the World Bank, women comprise at least one third of the traveling public in Kathmandu, with one in three feeling insecure in public transports.
"Some men will just stand behind you to touch or rub themselves against your body," Urmila, a woman in her mid-20s, said.
Young women aged 19-25 are more likely to experience " inappropriate touching" compared to other age groups, with 43 percent having actually experienced this kind of harassment, according to the World Bank study.
The main perpetrators are middle aged men and more than half of all women surveyed said they would avoid standing or sitting next to a middle aged man while traveling.
According to Dr. Dee Jupp, World Bank consultant, collective action is needed to address gender and public transport problems.
"Solving public transport issues requires a social contract; it requires everybody to recognize that there is a problem. We need to think about it together, so that it becomes an opportunity to build social norms around making these public spaces more secure for everyone," Jupp said.