With the earthquake badly affecting the life and property of people, the possibility of trafficking in women and children has increased. Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) KAMAL SINGH BAM, who is also the spokesperson of Nepal Police, spoke to NEW SPOLIGHT on various issues regarding the Nepal Police campaign to prevent such incidents. Excerpts:
What is the state of women and children following the earthquakes and what strategy has Nepal Police been adopting to prevent trafficking in women and children from the earthquake affected areas?
Girl trafficking has remained one of the major problems of Nepal. Taking note of the vulnerabilities of women and children, Nepal Police has established the Women and Children Service Center as a separate unit in each District Police Office to deal with this aspect and prevent crimes. The unit is fully operated by women police. One of the aims of the unit is to provide an easy access to women and help women victims share the information on crimes committed against them openly and frankly. It also helps women victims to share their privacy issues with the women police. Nepal Police is addressing the trafficking and other crimes related to women and children through these units most effectively.
What is the state of trafficking following the earthquakes?
After the earthquakes, incidents victimizing women and children have increased slightly compared to those of the previous years. A number of women and children are homeless and many women are jobless. People are facing the problems of unemployment. All this increases the vulnerability of women and children to being trafficked in the name of foreign employment. Going through the past records, Nepal Police has started to strictly monitor the activities of middlemen involved in the sector and mobility of women and children.
What other steps has Nepal Police been taking?
Nepal Police has already established a number of police units and stations in many earthquake affected areas, including bus stations and transit points, and is monitoring closely the movement of women and new faces. In incidents like major disasters, middlemen and traffickers find the most opportune time to lure women giving them false promises and trapping them in a vicious cycle of trafficking. Since Gorkha, Nuwakot, Sindhupachwok, Kavre, Makawanpur and Dolakha have many pockets of poverty stricken people and high incidents of trafficking, Nepal Police has maintained a tight vigilance there. Along with increasing patrolling and tightening vigilance on mobility, Nepal Police also has also launched awareness generating activities in the region with support from UN agencies, INGOs and local non-governmental organizations. There are possibilities of rape, sexual exploitation and wages denial happening against the women.
How do you find the mobility of women after the earthquakes?
Following the earthquakes, the mobility of women has increased in the region. Nepal Police is very alert on this. We have intensified our inspection and security checks in Nepal-India border posts. Nepal Police personnel allow the women to cross the border only after their thorough interviews and cross checks in the border posts. Along with cross verifying the documents, Nepal Police personnel also inquire for information about them to ensure their safety. Nepal Police units have sent back a number of women from the borders after suspecting their documents as spurious.
How does Nepal Police work in the border areas?
Normally, there were eight units in the border posts. We have increased the number by up to 14 more posts in parts of border making them altogether 22 after the earthquakes. Nepal Police has also established police units in main highway junctions. We have rescued more than 300 children from these junctions. They are leaving their villages without knowing the place to go. Nepal Police handed over these children to District Children Welfare Committee and Central Children Welfare Committee for their shelter.
Does Nepal Police have any central level unit?
Under the leadership of DIG, Nepal Police Headquarter has also set up a Working Group to prevent and control women and children's trafficking and crimes against them. The Unit will look at the sources of crime against women and children and suggest appropriate measures to prevent them. This unit also studies the destinations of women and children trafficking, routes, persons involved and past trends. Nepal Police is also closely coordinating with International Police Organization, the Interpol, as human trafficking is an international crime by nature. Nepal Police is also closely coordinating with the Nepalese diplomatic missions abroad to rescue the women and find out the criminals.
As the trafficking destinations of Nepalese women shift from India to more broadly abroad, how is Nepal Police handling the new situation?
India is now not just a destination country but also a transit country for trafficking of Nepalese women. Nepal’s air connectivity has increased and the numbers of Nepalese men and women going abroad have drastically increased. This adds responsibility for Nepal Police to know and act. As the areas and countries of employment increase, women leaving the country increase. In the area of entertainment industries, reports show that many Nepalese women are working in dance bars and dance restaurants in African countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Along with these countries, Nepalese women are also going to Gulf countries to work in the entertainment industries, in Dubai, Qatar, Syria, and Afghanistan.
How do you maintain vigilance?
Many women are leaving as domestic workers. Nepal government has permitted the Nepalese women to work in Israel as domestics. Many Nepalese women are working abroad as domestic workers by leaving the country with fake documents. The incidents of trafficking in Nepalese women through fake marriages have also increased recently. Many women were sent to Korea and China that way. There are groups, recently we busted a marriage bureau sending Nepalese women with fake documents.
In some cases, there are also complaints that Nepal Police is harassing all Nepalese women going for foreign jobs. With the provocation of some NGOs, they say Nepal Police is also denying the right of women to go abroad and work as men. How do you look at this?
The objective of Nepal Police is not to obstruct women's movement but to make their travel environment safe and secure. Nepal Police is aware about the need of not violating the rights of women but we are making all efforts to provide safe and secure environment for the women and not to put them in trouble on leaving the country. Nepal Police is aware that the right of freedom of movement is guaranteed by the constitution. The problems are intensifying at an alarming scale. The role of state is to protect its own citizens. There are legal manpower companies working with legal recognition from the government. However, there are many fake and illegal groups who are also active in this sector. Nepal Police is concerned with the Illegal organizations. We want to see women leave the country by following proper legal channels. We want to ensure the safety of women not to violate the fundamental rights of women. We don’t intend to harass women and prevent them from going abroad to work with proper documentation.
How many women have been rescued so far?
We have a database of trafficking, based on the cases filed in the court. According to Nepal Police official data, in 1969/70, 139 cases were registered in the court with 189 criminals involved in the cases. In 2070/71, Nepal Police registered 185 cases in courts and Nepal police took action against 220 people. In 2071.072, there were 184 cases registered with 237 persons involved.
How do you view the cyber crime?
We are seriously monitoring this new crime. Under Electronic Transaction Act 2006, we are taking legal actions. In 2068/069, there were 9 cases reported followed by 19 in 2069/070 and 39 in 2070/071. There were 35 cases in 2071/072.
How strong is Nepal Police to cope with human trafficking cases?
Nepal Police has developed its institutional capability to cope with new crimes like human trafficking and to destroy illegal gangs related to this. The Central Intelligence Bureau of Nepal Police has been actively working in the area. Nepal has a cyber act and Nepal Police has developed an IT-based manpower. Nepal Police is also working to enhance the capability of Crime Investigative Division of Metropolitan Police along with CBI. We are developing a pillar for cyber crime. We are also asking for budget to run a forensic lab to deal with the cyber crimes.
As Nepal Police has already completed the early phase of rescue and relief, what role does it have in the post-disaster activities?
Nepal Police has been focusing all the efforts to provide safety and security to women. We are now focusing on protection of women and children.