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Women in Nepal remain vulnerable to human trafficking

Intergovernmental collaboration is needed to combat a crime that operates itself beyond borders.

2022 Jun 28, 8:09, Kathmandu
Human rights. Indonesia 2009. Photo: Josh Estey

Even though, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking of Women and Children for Prostitution exists as a regional law enforcement agreement in South Asia and despite of its’ condemnation of human trafficking, the organized crime continues to flourish in the region.

A recent research, ‘Unpacking Human Trafficking from Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism Paradigms in Nepal: A Critical Review’ published in 2021, reveals that most cases of trafficking in Nepal are never reported. This is mainly due to the stigmatization of the issue in Nepali society. The research also highlights, the long and expensive judicial process of Nepal, which makes it difficult to receive fast verdicts form the court in regards to human trafficking. A noteworthy point the critical review pointed out is the role of an open border system with India, which opens gateways for traffickers to take the abducted victims to foreign lands.

Article 29, clause 3 of the present constitution of Nepal states: No person shall be subjected to human trafficking or bonded labor, and such an act shall be punishable by law. Furthermore, in clause 5 of the same article, it is mentioned that: Any act contrary to clause 3 shall be punishable by law and the victim of such an act shall have the right to compensation.

“Human traffickers take advantage of the weak implementation of human trafficking laws existent in Nepal. Moreover, the prevailing law on human trafficking in Nepal, fails to recognize and prosecute the crime of human trafficking committed in Nepal itself. Many women are brought inside the country from other nations for sexual slavery,” says senior legal practitioner Meera Dhungana of Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD). FWLD has been involved in legal advocacy for proper implementation of human trafficking laws in the country, providing justice to the human trafficking survivors and creating awareness regarding such heinous crimes. Speaking with Nepalnews, Dhungana highlighted the prevalence of domestic violence and lack of property rights given to women as the major reasons why women are more likely to get lured and abducted by human traffickers.

A report published by Nepal’s Human Rights Commission estimates that around 35,000 people have been trafficked from Nepal in 2018. Among them, 15,000 women and 5,000 girls were victims of this crime. Not just in Nepal, women and children form the majority of victims of human trafficking in the whole of South Asia. Disturbingly, South Asian countries are being used as transit points by human traffickers worldwide. Therefore, there is a need of working together to collectively eliminate if not minimize this evil.


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