Southside story

Children are a vulnerable lot in Nepal, and the rest of South Asia. They are subjected to all kinds of exploitation and domestic violence, and more and more of children are being trafficked throughout the region. In its latest report “South Asia in Action: Preventing and Responding to Child Trafficking” made public on Wednesday, UNICEF calls for a robust

legal framework to combat child trafficking in SAARC region. The report links trafficking of

South Asian children with prostitution, sex tourism, child pornography and paedophilia.

Every year, nearly 10,000 Nepali girls aged 9-16 are trafficked to India; the number of trafficked boys is harder to pin down. Notably, among the SAARC countries, only India and Sri Lanka have signed the Palermo Protocol, the first legal instrument to provide international definition of trafficking in human beings.

UNICEF recognises poverty as the single biggest reason for increase in trafficking of Nepali children, with family members and relatives playing as big a role in the sorry affair as the organised criminal groups. As the report recommends, laws with real teeth will have to be devised to clamp down on those involved in this insidious trade. It is equally important to avail psychological help for children subjected to prolonged exploitation of any kind.