Nepal being used as human trafficking transit: US report

  • Unregistered migrantsare more vulnerable to forced labour and sex trafficking

Kathmandu, June 29

As reported over the past five years, Nepal is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, says the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report released by the US Department of State today.

The report has classified Nepal as a Tier 2 country, which means that the Government of Nepal does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, although it is making significant efforts to do so.

“Nepali women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Nepal, India, the Middle East, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Nepali men, women, and children are subjected to forced labour in Nepal, India, the Middle East, and Asia in construction, factories, mines, domestic work, and begging,” it said, adding that manpower agencies or individual employment brokers who engage in fraudulent recruitment practices and impose high fees might facilitate forced labour.

According to the report, unregistered migrants — including a large number of Nepalis who travel through India or rely on unregistered recruiting agents — are particularly vulnerable to forced labour and sex trafficking.

Some Nepali women who agree to arranged marriages through Nepali companies to men in China and South Korea may experience fraud and be vulnerable to domestic servitude in which their freedom of movement is restricted. Some migrants from Bangladesh and possibly other countries transit Nepal en route to employment in the Middle East, using potentially falsified Nepali travel documents, and may be subjected to human trafficking.

“Some government officials reportedly accept bribes to include false information in Nepali identity documents or provide fraudulent documents to prospective labour migrants, a tactic used by unscrupulous recruiters to evade recruitment regulations,” it said.

Within Nepal, bonded labour exists in agriculture, brick kilns, the stone-breaking industry, and domestic work. Sex trafficking of Nepali women and girls increasingly takes place in private apartments, rented rooms, guest houses, and restaurants. Nepali and Indian children are subjected to forced labour in the country, especially in domestic work, brick kilns, and the embroidered textile, or zari, industry.

Under false promises of education and work opportunities, Nepali parents give their children to brokers who instead take them to frequently unregistered children’s homes in urban locations, where they are forced to pretend to be orphans to garner donations from tourists and volunteers. Some of the children are also forced to beg on the street.

“Many Nepalis, including children, whose home or livelihood was destroyed by the 2015 earthquakes continue to be vulnerable to trafficking. Traffickers increasingly utilise social media and mobile technologies to lure and deceive their victims,” read the report.

According to the report, Nepal demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, it remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts through a rise in both the number of trafficking investigations and victims identified, and by doubling its budget to provide victim care services to female victims of violence, including trafficking victims.

“The government conducted awareness activities around the country and revoked the licences of more than 400 foreign employment agents located outside of Kathmandu, reportedly to reduce exploitation of migrant workers. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Its laws do not prohibit all forms of trafficking and it lacks standard operating procedures on victim identification,” it said.