Kantipur Publications Ltd. is committed to providing a safe environment for all its employees, free from discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, at work. Kantipur Publication’s harassment policy aims to protect men and women in our company from unwanted provocations and give them guidelines to report incidents. We will also explain how we handle claims, take actions against harassment and help victims recover.

Kantipur Publications will not tolerate harassment in the workplace in any shape or form as our culture is based on mutual respect and collaboration. Harassment of any kind is a serious violation of those principles.

What is Harassment?

Harassment covers a wide range of behaviour that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person, and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral reasonableness. These are behaviours that appear to be disturbing, upsetting or threatening to another individual. It also includes situations where a person is asked to engage in undesirable activity as a condition of that person’s employment, as well as situations which create an environment that is hostile, intimidating or humiliating for the person on the receiving end. Furthermore, workplace harassment creates a mental, physical and psychological effect that compromises and undermines an individual’s productivity and motivation.

Harassment may be physical, verbal and non-verbal. Examples of conduct or behaviour which constitute harassment include, but are not limited to:

Physical Conduct

Unwelcome physical contact including patting, pinching, stroking, kissing, hugging, fondling, or inappropriate touching

Physical abuse/violence, including sexual assault

The use of job-related threats or rewards to solicit sexual favours

Verbal Conduct

  • Comment on an individual's sexual orientation, religious belief, race, origination, ethnicity, birthplace, physical & mental disability, private life (family, marriage, qualification etc.) appearance, age, gender, income etc.
  • Use of offensive language, taunts, innuendo and insults.
  • Severe conduct (intimidation and bullying), abuse of power and authority.
  • Sexual advances, gender supression, voicing out.
  • Repeated and unwanted communication request, unwelcoming social invitations for dates or physical intimacy.
  • Comments on looks, dress, sexuality or gender in a derogatory manner with or without the intent to creating an uncomfortable environment.
  • Spreading rumors, belittling
  • Making sexist or obscene comments, jokes or gestures that humiliate or offend an individual.
  • Flirting in an inappropriate setting (for example, during news meetings, reporting trips or official gathering) without their participation in a way that could degrade and harm their professional reputation.

Non-Verbal Conduct

    Display of sexually explicit, pornographic or suggestive material

  • Sending undesirable sexually explicit messages
  • Sexually-suggestive gestures, whistling, leering, winking

Inadvertent Harassment

Sometimes, people who harass others do not realize that their behaviour is wrong. We understand this is possible, but that doesn’t make the perpetrator any less responsible for their actions. If you suspect that someone doesn’t realize their behaviour is harassment under the definition of this policy, let them know and ask them to stop. Do so preferably via email so you can have records. Please do not use this approach when your line manager, an upper manager, investor or customer is the perpetrator.

How to report or complain about harassment

Any forms of harassment can exhaust those who endure it. Speaking up about this issue is often tough because of the fear of not being heard, upsetting managers and challenging corporate culture. Please don’t let these fears deter you. We need to know what is going on in the workplace so we can act on it—immediately. By raising your voice on this issue, you help your company create a happy, healthy workplace.

The Government of Nepal has enacted specific legislation addressing sexual harassment at the workplace with the objective to protect the right of every individual to work in a safe environment. The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Prevention Act, 2015. The Sexual Harassment Prevention Act envisages two internal and external complaint mechanisms.

Internal Complaint Mechanism

Under the internal complaint handling mechanism the employer or the manager having the authority to decide on administrative matters, or head of the department of the entity handling administrative matters such as HR department shall handle the complaints.

If you are being harassed or have witnessed harassment of any of your colleagues in your units, department, bureaus, or in the newsroom, please report it to the HOD immediately. If you do not hear from the HOD within 24 hours, or if you are not comfortable speaking with a male head of your department, please contact Ms. Barsha Thapa, Sr. Executive—Human Resources, who will coordinate a response directly with the top management. We encourage to file complaints as soon as a problem appears.

External Complaint Mechanism

The Chief District Officer (“CDO”) of the concerned district is the initial complaint handling authority. If an employee is not satisfied with the decision of management, he/she can adopt the external mechanism.

The Kantipur Publication's Rules on Sexual Harassment

  • Firstly, we encourage everyone to speak up against the ongoing harassment (if any). The cases of harassment cannot be known until it is proclaimed. Hence, the issue needs to be brought forward either by the victim or the witness.
  •  To avoid harassment, think about how & what you say or do will make the other person feel. For example, whether you are making a sexist joke about women doing household chores or flirting and making sexual comments, if that makes your colleagues uncomfortable or unsafe, you need to stop. Also, the person who feels uncomfortable have to stop that person from saying such comments. If he/she does not stop despite of several warnings, then he/she should report to concerned HOD or HR Department.
  • No incident of harassment will be taken lightly. We will listen to every claim, investigate anyone who is accused, and penalise the offenders appropriately. We will consider every harassment claim legit unless proven otherwise in the course of our investigation.
  • Those who ignore and idly watch sexual harassment are equally at fault. All bureau chiefs and section editors are responsible for preventing sexual harassment in the newsroom and immediately reporting cases of violations to the editor-in-chief. Encouraging harassment by laughing and/or ignoring makes the discomfort and pain to the person who is being harassed worse. Anyone who witnesses an incident of harassment or has corroboration should report to the respective HOD.
  • Regardless of the position in the company and years of experience, employees will face strict disciplinary action (which may range from demotion, suspension, withheld of grade, withheld of promotion to termination depending upon the level of accusation) if they are found guilty. Anyone found guilty of severe harassment of any sort will be terminated.  If anyone outside the company harasses our employees during the course of reporting, we will officially report that that the respective organisation takes necessary disciplinary action and lawful actions are taken against in case of individual perpetrators.
  • If anyone makes a false complaint and allegation of harassment intentionally and knowingly against someone who is innocent/not guilty, then the person who filed the complaint will be liable for the necessary disciplinary action.
  • Harassment of any kind won’t be tolerated; it will be investigated fairly and justly.

What about harassment outside the office premises?

There is a list of things you can do to reduce and prevent the chance of being harassed when you’re out reporting, photographing, or simply meeting a prospective source.

The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma at Columbia Journalism School has a great tip sheet, based on interviews with leading women journalists, to help reporters recognise, mitigate and address sexual harassment when you’re on assignment. Here are some helpful tips:

Choose safe meeting places. When you’re meeting a source you don’t know, consider opting for a public place, like a restaurant, even if a home or in a private location might seem more attractive for an interview. Avoid situations that the source may interpret as falling outside professional bounds, in terms of location or timing. For example, if pressed to meet over evening drinks, you can say you’re on deadline and suggest breakfast or lunch instead. That’s not only a safer setting - it also signals that you’re setting boundaries.

Avoid being alone with any individual you don’t know or trust. Avoid inviting sources – or your fixer, translator or driver – to your hotel room, and don’t go to their place unless you know and trust them. If necessary, have a colleague or friend accompany you under the pretence of being a photographer or a note taker. Having another “journalist” present makes clear this is a work meeting. If that’s not an option, ask friends or colleagues to call you every 20-30 minutes; when you answer, you can say, “Sorry, I’m conducting the interview I told you about.” It may interrupt the flow, but will also signal that others are aware of your whereabouts. If you must meet in a hotel room, ask room service to stop by every 20 minutes, to replenish your tea or water or to bring in fresh coffee, so your source understands he is not really alone with you.

If you’re going to a remote or private place to report, alert friends/colleagues. Let them know where you’re going, whom you’re meeting or interviewing, and what time you expect to return. Keep updating frequently to your immediate supervisor about your whereabouts. Mentally prepare yourself to cope with possible difficulties, always equipped with necessary equipment like extra mobile phone, power bank, important phone numbers and contact of local police.

Dress and act neutrally and professionally. Especially when meeting a source for the first time, many journalists choose to dress conservatively or androgynously. Set boundaries right at the beginning, through your words, tone, body language, and clothing. Maintain a professional distance in relationships with sources – friendly but serious, and not too chummy.

Clarify intent early on. To avoid any potential misconceptions, especially if you’re reporting in a culture where you are unfamiliar with social signals and cues, be explicit at the outset that this is a work appointment – that you’re looking for X information for Y reason. Because of a cultural divide, you may have to underscore that message several times.

Network. Tap into or build a community of women in journalism, and trusted colleagues generally. Share information about colleagues and sources who are predatory, have poor social boundaries or make sexist or sexual comments. Seek and provide emotional support.

Be an active bystander. Stand up for those you see being harassed, report these behaviours to supervisors, and press others – including men – to speak up when they see/hear sexist comments or harassment.

Evaluate risks versus benefits. If you have reason to think you could be in danger and you can’t find ways to sufficiently mitigate that risk, seriously consider whether this particular story or interview is worth it. Look hard for alternate ways to get the information: interview other sources, or when possible, rely on phone or video calls instead of in-person meetings. Err on the side of safety.

For a detailed guideline on how to maintain relationships with your sources, supervisors and colleagues in the newsroom, please read and share this resource guide—http://bit.ly/newsroom-harassment—by the Dart Center.