Child trafficking: Nepal’s tragic phenomena

- PRAGATI SHAHI

Sep 16, 2014-

Eighteen-year-old Pushpa (name changed) was rescued from a brothel in the infamous red-light district of Mumbai, India by a joint-rescue team from Nepal and India and brought to a shelter home in Kathmandu last Friday.

It was in 2011 that Pushpa, who is originally from Dhading district, was sold to the brothel in the Indian financial capital by an agent from her own village. At that time she was just 15 and had recently appeared in the School Leaving Certificate exams. But she was tricked by the agent to come hundred of miles away from home to Mumbai and was sold to the brothel where she was forced to have sex with male clients for money. For three years she was forced to endure daily humiliation and torment of having to sell her body until she was rescued by the joint team.       

Still traumatised by her horrible experience and unable to relate her story, Pushpa is now undergoing counseling at the shelter home run by Maiti Nepal, a non-governmental organisation working to rescue and rehabilitate girls and women victims of trafficking and abuse in the capital. Meanwhile, a criminal case has been registered against the person who sold Pushpa into prostitution, according to the officials at Maiti Nepal.  

Pushpa’s case is symptomatic of the exploitation and abuse faced by thousands of young girls and women trafficked to India and beyond every year mostly by their own relatives or fellow villagers. An estimated 200,000 Nepali girls and women are said to be currently working in Indian brothels. Similarly, according to the data provided by the Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB) under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW), a total of 2,431 children went missing in the year 2011-2012 in Nepal. Similar datas from independent surveys point out that 5,000 to 7,000 women and girls are trafficked to India every year in order to be forced into prostitution.

According to Achyut Nepal, information officer with Maiti Nepal, unlike the earlier trend of trafficking Nepali girls and women to various brothels of India, more organised gangs involved in trafficking in women and children are now eyeing lucrative destinations in the Gulf and African countries where Nepali girls and women can be taken under the guise of foreign employment and forced into prostitution.

“As both the government and non-government organisations focused all their efforts to curb trafficking of Nepali girls and women to India, brokers and middlemen started trafficking Nepali girls for commercial sexual exploitation to newer destinations in the Gulf and African nations, including Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya by preparing fake passports,” he said.

Similarly, the internal trafficking of children from rural and underprivileged families to Kathmandu in order to be employed in works like embroidering, domestic work, brick kilns has been reported to be on the rise in the country, said Sunita Nepal of the Department of Women and Children under the MoWCSW. She further said Nepal is also increasingly being used as source, transit and destination country for child trafficking of many forms.

Most of the children who are victims of internal trafficking end up in the ‘entertainment’ sector, namely dance, cabin restaurants and massage parlors, where almost 40 percent of the girls below 18 years are involved. In its report, NHRC has further identified the three forms of trafficking in persons in Nepal—trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and trafficking for entertainment and other purposes.

Similarly, according to the findings shared by the a national report (2012-2013) on ‘Trafficking in persons especially on women and children in Nepal’ by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) earlier this month, cross border trafficking of children for labor exploitation has been widely reported, especially in circus performance, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction works.

Meanwhile, Child right activists and experts say that despite the government’s sustained efforts to control all forms of child abuse and trafficking by formulating necessary policies and programmes, effective implementation has been found lacking. The government has already formulated Human Trafficking and Transportation (Control) Act in 2007 and required regulations in 2008. In 2012, a national child policy was drafted to protect children from all forms of abuse and exploitation.

Published: 16-09-2014 08:22

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