Report on Trafficking and sex workers launched

30 pc of sex workers are childrenReport on Trafficking and sex workers launchedHimalayan News ServiceKathmandu, April 12It is the most alarming report that about 30 per cent of the escalating number of sex workers in Kathmandu are children. More interestingly, half of the total sex workers here are literate and are engaged as waitresses in abundant number of restaurants located in the valley. Of the total 440 sex workers among whom 302 were adults (18+) and 138 children in the valley, around 43 per cent of them belong to the ethnic groups of the hills (Gurung, Magar, Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Lama and Sherpa), 33 per cent are Chhetri and 9.8 are Brahmin.The data has challenged the earlier perception that the so-called higher castes (Brahmin and Chhetri) were not among the commercial sex workers. More astonishing is that their educational attainment is around 59 per cent comparing to the national average of 35.4 as stated in the UNDP Human Development Report 2001. These sex workers undertake a variety of jobs such as waitresses in restaurants, masseurs and helpers in shops. Fifty per cent of adult sex workers and over 50 per cent of child sex workers are engaged in restaurants. The silent consent of husbands in sexual exploitation and trafficking has been noted and over half of the sex workers are married and three quarters of them are mothers.About 16 per cent of the study cases were totally ignorant about the people involved in the trafficking of girls and although another 67 per cent are aware of the dalals (pimps). They have a very low awareness about the methods of trafficking. 81 per cent of the case studies are employed as waitresses and masseurs. Most unexpected of all the findings is that 94 per cent had entered the sex trade voluntarily, but were ready to quit if they were to receive a better economic opportunity. Among them, 63 per cent had found the job through friends, and the other six per cent were forced or had been deceived by false promises to adopt the profession. None of those trafficked into the valley from outside knew the nature of the work they were expected to perform upon arrival in Kathmandu. This reveals a fact that girls were deceived through incorrect or insufficient information, because of which they had to end up in an occupation other than they had perceived.Other action researches have identified that issues concerning child labour and the trafficking of children has troubled all ethnic communities and the entire nation is against it.It is stated in a rapid assessment on "Internal Trafficking Among Children Engaged in Prostitution" carried out by International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in preparation for the Time Bound Programme, an obligation for the signatory nations of the ILO Convention No 182 on the Worst Form of Child Labour. Nepal signed the Convention in 2001.In another report on "The Cross Border trafficking of boys" which is a follow-up research to the Janakpur incident, where 25 boys as young as 6 years old were rescued while being trafficked to India, it is revealed that all the children originated from two districts and belonged to one specific ethnic community. It demonstrated that trafficking of boys for exploitative labour is a large problem encompassing over 19 districts and diverse ethnic communities. Poverty has been identified as the main cause and lack of awareness and education and local income generation activities as other push factors. Family conditions continue to remain extremely poor although more than 60 per cent of children uphold the ambition to earn money and support their families. Intervention programmes do not still target the genuinely marginalised communities.In a third report on "Trafficking and sexual abuse of street children" it is stated that about 15 per cent of children trafficked to cities end up in hazardous child labour situations and finally find themselves on the streets, where they lead a highly vulnerable existence.The majority of street children do not have their own mother and at least nine per cent are orphans. 37 per cent of them are sexually abused by paedophiles or by street leaders. The children are also used for the production of pornography. Lack of educational opportunities, poverty and domestic violence are the main push factors.Releasing the reports, minister for women, children and social welfare Rajendra Kharel said that the rampant cases of child labour and trafficking for sexual and other forms of labour exploitation from Nepal defames the country in the international scenario. "The endorsement of the Civil Code 11th Amendment Bill and the Bill on domestic violence are good steps towards controlling the exploitation. We should eliminate trafficking and mere controlling is not sufficient," he added.Director of the ILO Office Kathmandu, Leyla Tegmo-Reddy, said that there has been a lot of research done in the field of child labour and exploitation but often these studies duplicate and therefore waste the scarce resources available. "There is much data and many figures on trafficking which are based on assumptions and we cannot develop successful programmes based on assumptions," she added."This research has been conducted to direct the design of new and needed interventions and thus will be carried out under the trafficking component of the forthcoming time bound programme against the Worst Form of Child Labour in Nepal," said Tine Starmose, chief technical director of ILO IPEC Trafficking in Children-South Asia.