Citizenship eludes trafficking victims

Kathmandu, September 3:

Though the amended Citizenship Act has eased the process of getting citizenship certificates for others, victims of human trafficking are still facing difficulties in receiving the same.

This is seriously affecting the rehabilitation process of the victims as citizenship certificates are required to open bank accounts, purchase land and in every other government formalities.

Kaushila Singh from Kanchanpur said she could not save her earning because she did not have a bank account. “I couldn’t open a bank account because I didn’t have a citizenship certificate. When I applied for citizenship from my own village, VDC official asked me to summon my husband, who had already left me,” she said.

Sita Pun from Kaski and Risu Singh from Birgunj have similar stories to share. They said they were not getting good jobs because they did not have citizenship certificate. They demanded the government take the issue seriously and initiate measures to provide citizenship to the victims of human trafficking.

Only eight of the 75 women taking shelter in Maiti Nepal have citizenship certificates. The eight women got citizenship certificates only after strong lobbying of Maiti Nepal.

Binita Shrestha, assistant shelter in-charge in Maiti Nepal, said rescued women were not getting citizen certificates because of the lack of guardians.

“There is no problem for women whose families are identified. But the women who prefer to be independent and the family of whose are missing are having difficulties in getting the citizenship certificates,” she said.

However, Ritu Raj Bhandari, spokesperson for the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said the Nepal Citizenship Act 2006 had given privilege of getting citizenship

certificates without the mention of parents in special cases. He said the ministry was received any complaint from the trafficking victims over the issue. “We will provide full support for such women to get citizenship certificate,” Bhandari assured.

Maiti Nepal rescued 48 women from India and Gulf countries and intercepted 2,790 women

from border points in 2007. The ministry does not have data on the number of trafficked women.

Human trafficking in South Asia takes place in many forms and for variety of purposes like organ transplant, camel jockeying, bonded labour, domestic servitude, sex trade, hazardous labour, forced marriage, illegal adoption and pornography, reports have said.