Nepal's capital has introduced women-only minibuses in a bid to protect female passengers from sexual assault, the transport operator organising the service said today.
Four 17-seater minibuses were flagged off in Kathmandu with large "women-only" signs on Sunday and they will operate on key routes in Kathmandu during morning and evening rush hour.
"Groping and sexual assault is a problem for women who use buses, especially during peak hours when buses are overcrowded," said Bharat Nepal, president of the Bagmati Federation Transport Union, which introduced the service.
"This is our small initiative to make commuting safe and secure for female travellers."
Only one of the buses currently has a female conductor but he said that the goal was to eventually employ an all-women crew.
In a 2013 World Bank survey, 26 per cent of female respondents aged between 19 and 35 years said they had experienced some form of sexual assault on public transport in Nepal.
In 2011, a 21-year old Buddhist nun was gang raped in a bus in eastern Nepal by five men, including the bus driver.
Complaints about groping prompted authorities in neighbouring India to introduce women-only carriages on the metro system in the capital New Delhi in 2010.