fight against human trafficking

  • Calls louder for Saarc convention revision
- Post Report, Kathmandu
The convention is narrow in scope and does not comply with internationally agreed definitions of trafficking, according to stakeholders

Sep 5, 2016-In a bid to cast a wider net against human trafficking, stakeholders have called for a revision on the South Asian Association for Regional Corporation (Saarc) Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking of Women and Children for Prostitution.

The convention is narrow in its scope and does not comply with internationally agreed definitions of trafficking, according to them. 

“Forms of trafficking have changed and it is not only women and children who are trafficked. Sexual exploitation is not always for commercial purpose, but for purposes such as labour exploitation, organ transplant and domestic servitude, among others,” said Chari Maya Tamang, founder president of Shakti Samuha.

Change in human trafficking has resulted in men too falling victims of trafficking, but as per the Saarc Convention only women and children fall prey to this modern day slavery. 

The convention also does not comply with the internationally-agreed definition of trafficking, as contained within the Palermo Protocols to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and ILO Convention 2009 on Forced Labour.

“The convention restricts women’s right to free movement and criminalizes voluntary sex work, and addresses the problem of trafficking from a more moralistic and protectionist perspective,” said Ashimta Sapkota of Women Rehabilitation Centre. She added that it does not sufficiently address trafficking both to and from South Asia to other regions, although the majority of labour trafficking occurs during the foreign labour migration process outside the Saarc region.

The 11th Saarc Summit held in Kathmandu in 2002 had approved the Convention on Combating Trafficking of Women and Children. Ten years ago, Parliament had approved the Saarc Convention and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW ) has been observing the event every year since.

Forms of human trafficking have shifted over the years. In the past, trafficking rings used to sell young, uneducated and poor girls from rural areas into Indian brothels. But the destination has shifted now to the Gulf and even East African countries. Nepal has also changed from the country of origin for trafficking to source of transit and destination. 

“Nepal is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking,” stated a report of the US Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP).

As the chair of the Saarc Secretariat, Nepal has a golden chance to push the agenda. “We are working with Ministry of Foreign Affairs to revise the convention in accordance with the change in form of trafficking and make it on par with other international conventions. If things go as planned we will be able to raise the issue in the next Saarc Summit in Pakistan,” said Sunita Nepal, under-secretary and head of Control of Human Trafficking and Transportation at the MoWCSW.

16 Kyrgyz-bound women rescued from Nepalgunj-Rupaidiha border this year

BANKE: Maiti Nepal, an organisation working for women and child rights, has rescued 16 Kyrgyzstan-bound women from the Nepalgunj-Rupaidiha border point in Banke district since January.

According to Maiti Nepal, the women did not have any documents with them. “We were going to Kyrgyzstan via India. The agents had assured us that we would get jobs as domestic workers in Kyrgyzstan,” said one of the rescued women taking shelter at Maiti Nepal.

Keshav Koirala, regional coordinator for the organisation, said the traffickers told them that they would get their passports in New Delhi.

Chief of the Banke Police Tek Prasad Rai said they are looking into the cases. According to Maiti Nepal, as many as 2,328 women have been rescued from the Nepalgunj-Rupaidiha border since 2002. (PR)

Published: 05-09-2016 08:28

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