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Day 14: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

Discussion Topic: Economic opportunities can be an important way to prevent human trafficking in Nepal

Women trafficking is one of the grave misfortunes against human rights. Girls trafficking is still one of the main problems in Nepal. The various cases of girls trafficking in the past years show that due to lack of education, awareness and financial support, young Nepali girls and women can be easily trafficked mainly in rural areas, and fall prey to the false hopes of traffickers for better opportunities and happy life in the city. These trafficked women are then forced into either sex industry or forced labor. And when these trafficked girls and women are rescued, due to social stigma, the rehabilitation process becomes even more challenging for them. And many times, these girls and women are not even accepted by their own families, which only adds to their misery. Even today, there are many Nepalese women who travel to the Gulf countries in search of better employment opportunities through illegal means and they are more likely to be trafficked into sex industry and forced labour.

If we are to understand why young girls and women of remote areas are more vulnerable, this again hints to Nepal’s conservative society that hardly supports for girls’ education. In the past and even today, parents in various remote places in Nepal believe that a daughter should be adept in housework rather than going to school for education. Because of the conservative practices in rural areas, young girls fail to identify potential risks and become easy targets for those traffickers. On the surface, “Women Trafficking” may seem like a separate issue but if we look more closely, Gender-Based Violence is one of the reasons leading to “Women Trafficking” in Nepal. Due to inequality and deep-rooted patriarchy, the status of women in Nepali society has been undervalued for which they have been subjected to various forms of abuse and exploitation. 

The government of Nepal has passed strict laws to combat human trafficking. However, our girls and women will still be at great risk of being trafficked unless there are strategies to address the grassroot problems such as limited economic opportunities and easy access to education for girls and women.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

Nepal government has taken a various step forward to curb human trafficking in the country, but the possibility of women in rural areas being trafficked due to limited economic opportunities has not yet been ruled out. Pangmati Badwal, female RBG of RAP3 MHLR from Mugu district once said, “My husband died a few years ago. I am the only breadwinner in my house. I have been able to earn money by living in my own village. If RAP3 MHLR had not given me this job to a single mother like me, I would have had to leave the village in search of employment. And it is not as easy for women as it is for men to go and work abroad”. Many other women like Pangmati say that they are very happy to be able to earn money by living and working in their own village as the RAP3 MHLR project has provided employment to female road building and maintenance groups in various rural districts of Karnali Province. After earning their own income in the village, women are able to improve their socio-economic status and some are also able to send their children to school. It is proof that when the economic situation improves, children also get the opportunity to go to school and as a result they can be aware of any illegal business like women trafficking in the society.

The employment opportunities in projects like RAP3 MHLR will be short-lived, but if the Government of Nepal can work to bring sustainable and long-term employment opportunities in rural areas, women’s economic upliftment and development in education sector can be achieved and that can reduce the possibility of women trafficking in Nepal.

Nepal has a long history of trafficking of girls and women. Several researches have claimed that economic status of a family force girls and women into trafficking. How can we combat this intolerable violation of human rights in Nepal?