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Empowerment deficit steals mood of freed Kamiayas to celebrate 'liberation day'


Nepalnews
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2023 Jul 18, 14:09, Kathmandu

Today in the Nepali calendar marked the government's announcement 23 years ago to abolish the Kamaiya (bonded labour) system, liberating countless individuals from the clutches of the discrimination.

The government abolished the kamaiya system, a form of slavery, and freed the kamaiyas with the cancellation of their debts to their 'masters' on Saun 2, 2057 BS (July 17, 2000).

The announcement was itself a historic one in terms of advancing towards a progressive society where human rights and social justice gained prominence. But the reality is that the true empowerment of the freed kamaiyas is yet to be fully realized.

As former kamaiyas complained, they are significantly lagging behind in terms of their economic, social and political empowerment as their education, health, employment, sustainable livelihood, social empowerment and inclusion are yet to be the priorities of the State.

 The kamaiyas were living in Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bardiya, Banke and Dang and the government had at that time provide a piece of land (one to five kattha: one kattha equals to 3645 sq. ft. as per the location), timbers to build a shelter and some monetary assistance.

Over this course of time, the freed kamaiyas realised that these were not sufficient to resettle them in the society. A meaningful rehabilitation is still awaited.

"The day we were liberated from the discriminatory practice had to be celebrated with a much fanfare. But we are not in the position of marking the day enthusiastically as we are not liberated from the sufferings and pain," said Freed Kamaiya Women Development Forum, Kailali.

Kailali is home to 9,762 freed Kamaiyas and of them 953 are yet to be properly rehabilitated.

Forum President Seema Chaudhary demands identity card to freed kamaiyas, implementation of the people's housing programme targeting the freed kamaiays, and guarantee of free technical education to children of freed kamaiyas, kamlaris and youths, enterprise loan facility of Rs 500 thousand up to five years without collateral and the participation of former kamaiyas in the each State organs.

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bonded labour Kamaiya Kamaiya System a form of slavery education health Employment sustainable livelihood social empowerment
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