54 women missing since March lockdown


The Nepal-India border has been closed since the coronavirus crisis started. If, however, the applications filed with the police are anything to go by, 70 women, 28 of them below 18 years of age, went missing during the same period this year. Of the 70, as many as 16 were found.

Nepalgunj had witnessed a huge number of people intending to head to India even during the lockdown period. People who were allowed to exit were allowed to do so after producing official documents.

Most of the missing women had left home purportedly for foreign employment.

Forty-year-old Punam Thapa, who had gone to Kuwait for employment, has remained out of contact for years.

Similarly, no trace has been found of Sita Sharma of Belawa, Bardiya, who had headed to India for a job.

Likewise, Nepalgunj’s Dilli Kathayat went missing from near the bus park. Her family filed an application with the police seeking help to find her but there hasn’t been any news of her so far.

These are only representative cases.

The trend of women leaving the country professedly for foreign employment through Nepalgunj, who have gone missing, has increased.

This is shown not only by police reports but also the reports of various non-government organisations.

According to Maiti Nepal, Nepalgunj, an organisation campaigning against human trafficking, every year over 500 women heading to India through Nepalgunj go unaccounted for.

“We have cases where we received complaints of over 600 women gone missing in a single year,” said Maiti Nepal, Nepalgunj regional Coordinator Keshav Koirala, adding that only a fraction of them are found.

Most stakeholders have expressed concern about the lack of government mechanism to search for missing persons on foreign soil. Koirala suspected that most of these missing persons could be facing sexual and other forms of exploitation in India and Gulf countries.