Over 5,000 girls working as kamlaris in mid, far-west

Bardiya, January 11:

Though the Supreme Court had directed the government to make a law and abolish the kamlari system two years ago, more than 5,000 girls are still being forced to work as kamlaris in several districts of mid and far-west, including Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur.

According to a report prepared by a non-government organisation, some 5,211 kamlaris are being forced to work as domestic helps in the five districts.

Man Bahadur Chhetry, manager of Kamlari Emancipation Programme, said most of the kamlaris were subjected to physical and mental exploitation at the hands of their owners.

“Some of the girls have even been disappeared while some have become pregnant at a very young age because of forced physical relations with their owners,” he added. On the day of Maghi, which falls on January 14 this year, parents negotiate with the owners and sell their children to the owners.

Though the government prohibited all forms of bonded labour eight years ago, the kamlari practice continues to exist even today. “We are very worried that the practice has been continuing even after the prohibition,” he said, adding, “Even educated people like teachers, government employees and political leaders are found to be forcing girls to work as domestics. Most of them are sexually exploited by the owners.” He added that two kamlaris had committed suicide in Dang two years ago after being physically exploited by their owners.

There are 1,995 kamlaris in Kailali, 1,741 in Bardiya, 500 each in Dang and Banke and 475 in

Kanchanpur, according to Chhetry.