Female workers subjected to forced labour

Employers withhold salary of women workers as a strategy to continue their exploitation

Kathmandu, August 25

Nearly 41 per cent of females working in entertainment and hospitality sector have been subjected to forced labour.

A report on ‘Status of Women and Children Working in Entertainment and Hospitality Sector’ released recently by the National Human Rights Commission stated that concerned entrepreneurs were imposing forced labour either deliberately or inadvertently. Twenty per cent females have been victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking in this sector.

“When women and girls are forced or coerced into sexual exploitation, concerned agencies responsible for crime investigation and prosecution pay no heed to the plights of the victims. Instead the victims of sexual exploitation

are framed as culprits to grant impunity to the entrepreneurs,” it says.

Though Nepal lacks specific law related to entertainment and hospitality sector, perpetrators can be booked under existing Civil and Criminal Code Act, Children’s Act and Human Trafficking and Transportation (Control) Act.

The report said that there was no adequate coordination and collaboration among labour office, district administration office, police and office of district attorney to put an end to child labour, human trafficking and sexual exploitation of workers by promoting decent labour in this sector.

Entertainment and hospitality sector includes dohorisanjh, rodhighar, dance bar, discotheque, massage parlour and cabin restaurant where people go for relaxation, food and liquor. There are around 3,500 such facilities throughout the country and only half of them have been registered.

Nearly 60,000 people, mostly females, have been working in this sector concentrated urban areas like Kathmandu valley, Pokhara, Narayanghat, Itahari and Dharan.

According to the NHRC, as many as 56 female workers (37 below 18 years) had participated in the study.

Sixty-eight per cent of them were from outside Kathmandu valley and ranged from literate to college students. Four female workers said their employers forced them into providing sex service to clients, while three were pressurised to act as sex worker.

Their salary was often withheld by the employers to ensure that the workers didn’t quit work or reported to police about their work condition.

The report has suggested concerned authorities to work hard for ending anomalies in the industry thereby delivering justice to the victims by enacting a separate law.