Online sexual harassment among young female students in Ward 10, Baneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal
Background: Incidences of sexual harassment that occur over the internet are growing with the development of new technologies and virtual communities. This is a hidden form of sexual harassment that emerges unpredictably and poses a public health challenge. The objective of this study was to determine the extent of online sexual harassment experienced by female students (aged 15–24 years) in Baneshwor (Ward 10), Kathmandu, Nepal. Methods: A total of 382 female students aged 15–24 – high school (10+2 level) to bachelor level – participated in a quantitative cross-sectional study. A semistructured questionnaire, in the English language, was designed for selfadministered data collection. It comprised six sections: sociodemographic information, internet accessibility, use of social media, experience of online sexual harassment, student’s awareness and online behaviour.
Results: Around 66.5% of respondents reported having been exposed to online sexual harassment at least once, and most of the respondents (73.2%) had been exposed to online sexual harassment multiple times. Just under twothirds (62.8%) of the respondents had been exposed to online sexual harassment before they reached 18 years of age. The mean age at which the young women experienced online sexual harassment was 18.94±1.79 years. Respondents studying in high school (10+2 level), those residing in urban areas and those accepting friend requests on social media from people they did not know offline were at higher risk of experiencing frequent online sexual harassment (P=0.000, P=0.011, and P=0.013 respectively). Conclusion: The rate of online sexual harassment recorded was high. This shows an urgent need to address the problem; universities and the government need to play a part. A new module of comprehensive sexuality education for virtual communication is suggested as an addition to current academic curriculums.