‘Recognise work in informal sector’

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 1, 2016-

Women working in the informal (entertainment) sector have urged the government to bring out a specific law to address the problems of sexual and physical violence associated with their sector. 

The two-day conference ended on Saturday, on the eve of International Labour Day, with women working in the dance restaurant/bar, cabin restaurants and massage parlour sharing their experiences of how their hopes of relief from such brutality ended with the much-awaited amended Labour Act failing sideling their issues. “I work hard by dancing in a bar to eke out my living. I want the state to recognise my work as decent work so that I can live in the society with my head held high instead of being subjected to unnecessary harassment from both the security personnel and the employer,” said Samjhana Gurung, who hails from Pokhara. 

Gurung, 25, added that the government could have done more to recognise the existence of women working in the entertainment sector. The amended Labour Act commended for ensuring work contract, sound working condition, working hours, holidays in favour of employees and which also forbids sexual harassment at the workplace has disappointed a huge section of women working in the informal sector.

Around 150 women from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Pokhara, Biratnagar, Saptari, Sunsari, Jhapa and Siraha, who attended the conference, shared their plight explaining lack of identity card, unfixed working hours and social stigma, among other problems. 

In the absence of specific law, rights advocates say, the right to decent work of those working in entertainment sector, regardless of gender, which has been enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23) and also the constitution has been violated. “A huge section of the work force are in this sector and instead of addressing their problems the government has simply been turning a blind eye to their problems by refusing their existence,” said Srijana Pun, member of Women for Women, an organisation working for the rights of women working in the entertainment sector. 

An estimated 40,000 women are working in the informal sector, which includes those working in restaurants and massage parlours in the Capital alone. 

Published: 01-05-2016 08:40

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