Walking to school or boarding a bus, women and girls are frequent targets. But now young people are fighting back. They want you to know: sexual harassment is a crime.
Daily in Nepal's patriarchal society, both women and teenage girls face the threat of Eve teasing, or sexual harassment, as well as unsolicited commentary about the appropriateness of their attire.
Walking alone down alleyways or boarding a crowded bus can become an intimidating experience.
In the case of 26-year-old Tribhuvan University student Smriti Rdn Neupane, an incident occurred simply because she walked down the street.
"My most painful one was the one I faced one day on my way to college," Neupane, a gender studies major, told Khabar South Asia. "I was walking from the bus station to my college when a man walked towards me briskly.
"Before I could walk away from his side of the sidewalk, he raised his right hand from below, hit me and walked off as briskly as he had approached," she told Khabar. "I was alone. So taking advantage of the situation, the guy was trying to touch my private parts, but he ended up hitting me.
"More than the pain, it was the feeling of helplessness that hurt me."
Eve teasing is illegal in Nepal.
The Public Offenses and Penalties Act, 1970, defines "any activity as sexual harassment when unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, 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".
But the offence is not taken seriously, leading to under-reporting of incidents and infrequent prosecution.
"I feel that the main cause of Eve teasing in a patriarchal country like ours is the socially engraved notion and impulse of men and boys to be masculine and to prove their masculinity." Neupane said.
Now, Neupane and other young people are fighting Eve teasing. Drawing inspiration from the SlutWalk campaign of women demonstrations against harassment and objectification, Prakrit Nepal, Nischala Arjal, Deepshikha Adhikari and Rakshya Chalise organised a similar march in April under the name Walk for Respect.
Along with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the event drew a crowd of more than 500 people. Well-known personalities such as singer Om Bikram Bista and actor Sunil Thapa attended.
"SlutWalk was about victim blaming and we drew inspiration from it and started a Facebook campaign under the name," 19-year-old Prakrit Nepal told Khabar. "But after much debate and discussion to contextualise the issue, we changed the name of the rally to 'Walk for Respect' and it was more about creating awareness.
"We intend to discourage and work against both the ongoing sexual harassments and the negative attitude prevalent in the society against females. But currently our efforts are focused on creating the awareness and uniting people against such activities," he said. "I think rather than the social norms, it is the conservative attitude of men that is more responsible for such incidents. We hope to change that."
Organisers expected a low turnout, but found themselves overwhelmed by the response. "It shows the prevalence of the problem in our society," Kathmandu School of Law student Deepshikha Adhikari, 20, told Khabar.
Prakrit said, "Almost every television channel and major newspapers of the country covered our event, which has helped generate a lot of awareness among people about these issues."
One obstacle in the battle against Eve teasing is under-reporting of incidents. Most people don't know that harassers can be prosecuted, and victims fear stigmatisation.
"Teasing has been recognised as a public offence and anyone committing such offences can be fined up to Rs. 10,000 ($112) and depending upon the cases, the person can even be detained and imprisoned for a certain period," Pun Devi Maharjan, a lawyer associated with Forum for Women, Law and Development, told Khabar.
"But the majority of people are unaware about this provision and complaints are rarely filed—which in turn encouraged offenders to commit such acts. Besides, due to ineffective enforcement of law there are chances of the victim being even more victimised.
"The publicity that occurs after such incidents hampers the victims more than the perpetrator themselves and in many cases when the perpetrator goes free or gets petty punishment, victims end up feeling bad," Maharjan said.
Police Women's Cell Sub-inspector Sharada Thapa said the police are also seeking to raise awareness of the problem and encourage more victims to come forward.
"The more victims report incidents, the easier it will be for us to prosecute the offenders," Thapa said. "The report rates are quite low and we believe creating awareness about these issues is important. It is necessary to make people aware that these are serious crimes."
Some activists say the terminology itself belittles the nature of the crime and are battling to remove the euphemism Eve teasing from the lexicon.
To help build public awareness, Neupane is involved in the Safer Cities campaign, which is collecting evidence about the extent of the problem.
"The first phase of this campaign is evidence collection, which we are doing through a 'safety audit' in various major bus stations inside the valley," she told Khabar.
The success of the Walk for Respect, meanwhile, has organisers excited to take the fight to another level.
"We are planning to do a poster campaign about Eve teasing and sexual harassment with the support of British Council Nepal and conduct interaction on the topic in various colleges and schools," Nepal told Khabar.