EDITORIAL: Marriage ruse

Trafficking of Nepali women in the guise of marriage brings more challenges to authorities in their fight against the horror of trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the worst global crimes. This modern slave trade, one of the most organised, is a threat to all nations across the world. Despite global efforts and national initiatives, the crime continues unabated. According to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), South Asia is the fastest-growing and second-largest region for human trafficking in the world, after East Asia. As per the UNODC’s estimates, around 75 per cent of trafficking victims are women and children. Nepal though has made some significant efforts in its fight against trafficking it is yet to fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. One of the major challenges the law enforcement agencies face in combating human trafficking is that criminals continue to change their modus operandi.

According to reports, women in recent years are being trafficked in the guise of marriage. This marriage ruse seems to be the new tactic human traffickers have resorted to. A recent national report on “Trafficking in Persons in Nepal 2018” released by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says of 1,200 Nepali women who migrated to Korea after marrying Korean men, some have fallen victims of fraud and deception. “Mismatched marriage, marriage with the disabled and old men and marriages in remote areas have been reported,” says the report. Nepal is both a source and a destination country for victims, and according to the national rights watchdog, some 23,200 people were trafficked in 2016—up from 9,500 the previous year. Evidences suggest Nepal now has also become the country of transit for human traffickers. Women and girls, mostly from poor rural areas, are usually lured by traffickers with promises of good jobs. But they are enslaved in homes as domestic workers, or as prostitutes. Nepali women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking at home as well as in India, the Middle East, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. At times we tend to understand women’s social and economic inequality as the cause for domestic violence and their exploitation. This, as a matter of fact, leads to trafficking, as traffickers thrive on unfavourable social determinants like poverty and joblessness.

The government while needs to address the issues of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, it should also launch and continue massive awareness campaigns. As far as the marriage ruse tactic adopted by traffickers is concerned, there is a need to maintain vigilance on mushrooming marriage bureaus. The NHRC report has also warned of correlation between education consultancies and human trafficking. In Nepal, official complicity in trafficking offences is also a huge challenge. Last year, a parliamentary committee found that women were able to depart from the TIA without completing the required migrant work exit procedures, largely due to negligence or complicity of immigration officials and police. Trafficking is a grave human rights abuse. It not only results in breakdown of families and communities but also fuels organised crime and deprives countries of human capital. Concerted efforts by government, the private sector, NGOs, the media and communities are a must to end the scourge of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Technical education

Vocational and technical education is very practical in a country like Nepal where a majority of youth cannot pursue university level of studies after high-school education. Technical education provides one with the opportunity to become self-reliant even without support from the state. The government has been providing vocational education to the youth since 1950 with donors’ assistance. However, the institutional development took place only in 1989 when the government set up a separate entity called the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training which has granted affiliation to as many as 153 institutes across the country.

But we still lack technical human resources who can better utilise their skills mostly in the agriculture sector in rural areas. The main objective of technical education is to prepare graduates for occupations that are above skilled crafts and below university graduates. The government should open mid-level institutes in all provinces where the youth who cannot make it to university can opt for technical education. Developed countries have adopted this policy to engage such youths in productive sectors.