Last week, Home Minister Thapa asserted in the 7th Regional Ministerial International Conference on ‘People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime” that the government of Nepal has taken seriously the issues related to human trafficking and transnational crimes while adding to the statement that human trafficking has emerged to be huge problem to the citizens of the country.
A week prior to the Minister’s statement, 74 Nepalese girls about to be trafficked to Gulf countries were rescued from Delhi, infamously known in India as the “rape capital”. The argument remains that despite participating in numerous conferences, being a signatory to various conventions, and formulating policies and control mechanisms for human trafficking across the country, the government does not seem to be able to stop the crime from taking place.
Human trafficking affects about xx number of people in Nepal. Trafficking in Nepal is rampant for various reasons arising out of poverty, lack of awareness, illiteracy, unemployment, and non-implementation of laws.
Girls and women from rural areas are the most prone to trafficking in 26 out of 75 districts that are classified to be extremely vulnerable to human trafficking. Human trafficking in Nepal is not only a transnational crime but also takes place within the country.
Women from rural areas are brought to urban areas and forced to enter the entertainment industry where they are exploited sexually without means of recourse. India also serves as a major hub of receiving trafficked women in brothels where again they are exploited sexually and have no means of escape. Children trafficked to India end up working as child labourers. Further from India, women are also trafficked to other countries across the world, for domestic labour and sex work. Most of these victims are trafficked to other countries via India, and as reported by the Indian Border Force, there has been a 500% increase in trafficking over the last five years. Most of the cases are reported to be from rural Nepal, mostly Terai.
There is no consent involved, thus “trafficking”, and the victims are put in hazardous work and living environments like circus, brick kilns, brothels, factories, and so on where they have no means of protection. They are also sold for a price to their “owners” who then become proprietors of these victims of human trafficking until the price of their purchase can be paid back to these owners. As belonging to the owners who have bought them, albeit illegally, this becomes modern day slavery. In fact, it is said that despite the abolishment of slavery 150 years ago, slavery is more prominent in modern times more than ever. Such inhumane purchases can only lead to other atrocious behaviour towards the victims.
The government action to curb the crime and protect the affected has not been strong enough to protect the victims of trafficking. This is what has been causing hindrances in effective implementation of the law that works towards stopping human trafficking. The compliance of the police with other traffickers has also hindered the effective stopping of trafficking. Therefore, effective mechanisms of practice can only be proven if trafficking declines considerably. Till then the Minister’s assertion will only be a rhetoric.