EDITORIAL: Control trafficking

Concerted efforts are required at all levels to end human trafficking which is a global crime

After the Nepal government imposed a total ban on women working as domestic help in the Gulf countries in June 2015 on the ground of insecurity, sexual exploitation and non-payment of wages, many Nepali women have chosen illegal channels to reach there, duped by unscrupulous manpower agencies. The dishonest manpower agencies, both from Nepal and India, prepare fake “no objection letters” and fly them to the Middle East using various Indian airports. The government does not have authentic data as to how many of such women – married or single – take the short-cut route to reach their destinations dubbed “unsafe for Nepali women” by the Nepal government. Most women are taken to India by brokers taking advantage of the porous border between Nepal and India to take them to the Gulf countries. The crooked manpower agents from both the countries have built a nexus and they are active in Nepali villages to dupe the Nepali women with false promises of offering them with handsome salaries and good accommodation in the Gulf. It has also come to light that most of the women fallen prey to the fraud agents had acquired passports without the knowledge of their spouses.

Against this backdrop, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on Wednesday rescued 16 Nepali girls from Delhi’s Munirka area. The rescued women are believed to have been on their way to be trafficked to Kuwait and Dubai. They were rescued during a raid with the help of Delhi Police. DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal shared on Twitter that the “girls had been trafficked to India from Nepal and were being sent to the Middle East”. She also said the traffickers had also taken away their passports, locking them up in a tiny room from where they saved them. Most of the rescued women are married aged between 20 to 40 years. They were taken to Delhi on a bus. The women are now safe and are in a police shelter, according to an official at the Delhi-based Nepali Embassy. The rescued women will be repatriated to their respective homes after completing necessary legal formalities. Similarly, around 50 Nepali women are also said to be taken in a “hostage like condition” in a house in Varanasi, according to Bardiya police, who came to know about the whereabouts of them after two of them fled to their home district. However, the Indian police failed to rescue them as the traffickers had already whisked them before the police raid.

The two shocking incidents speak volumes about how Nepali women are trafficked to the Middle East using the porous border. Maliwal has rightly pointed out the need for a better coordination between the two countries to control trafficking of Nepali women. Acute poverty, illiteracy and lack of knowledge about the working environment for women in the Gulf countries are the major problems. The law enforcement agencies must increase surveillance in the border areas from where a large number of unsuspecting women are trafficked to India. All levels of governments need to raise awareness on this issue and, try their best to create women-friendly job opportunities within the country to control such ill-practice, which has also become a worldwide problem. Women themselves also should be cautious and consult family members before embarking on foreign jobs.

Chepang kids in lurch

Closure of a school in Tanahun district has jeopardised education of around a dozen Chepang kids. Bhawani Primary School at Odhare of Byash Municipality in the district has been closed down from this academic session due to lack of students. These Chepang kids now have an option of attending Amar Singh Secondary School which is in the same ward but children have to walk for an hour and a half. There is no other school in Odhare.

The Chepangs are one of the most disadvantaged and marginalised indigenous groups in Nepal. Their population, according to 2011 census, is 68,000. The Chepangs are spread across Makawanpur, Dhading, Chitwan, Gorkha, Lamjung and Tanahun districts. People from this community are mostly poor and still far from the reach of the modern world. Unless education is ensured for the Chepang children, the community will continue to lag behind. Hence governments at all levels must pay extra attention to ensure education to the Chepang children not only from Tanahun but other districts also. Poverty is one reason that is depriving the Chepang children of education. Authorities hence must redouble their efforts to ensure Chepang children’s right to education.