Nepal’s slave girls waiting for justice

Slavery is abolished long time ago but still we hear the story of slavery and people are in continuation of this even it’s a crime to do so.

Here a nine-year old girl Manjita Chaudhary who was living with her family in western Nepal before her father sold her to a Nepalese policeman for $25 to slave.

Manjita, travelled 124 miles (200 KM) to her employer’s home near the Indian border. Before that she had never spent a night away her parents. It’s inhuman to sell children for money.
She was tortured in employer’s house. Chaudhary now 22, told “I couldn’t cope with the work, so my employer’s wife would beat me with pots and pans, and threatened to sell me to another man,”

“I was so scared, I couldn’t even cry in front of them, I would just cry quietly in the bathroom,” she said.

After a year later being sold when she met with her father she begged him to take her with him to their home, but her father, a bonded her saying he couldn’t afford to raise her and her sister, as her younger sister, whom they had sold into domestic slavery.

In Nepal, New Year’s celebrations are a time of happiness for families but also a tragic time for poor parents, to sell their young daughters, usually around the ages of 6 and 7, to contractors that keep the girls as servants around the house. Girls sold into this virtual form of slavery are known as kamlari. Usually, this is for money. The girls’ wages will feed their families. It is also a matter of pride, because kamlari tradition dictates culture; it is perfectly normal.
In 2006 this tradition was outlawed but still in practice.
The main reason of continuity it is because so far, no employer has been punished for hiring or abusing kamlaris.

At the age of 12, Chaudhary learnt to read and write. Today, the business undergraduate cuts a confident figure, fashionably dressed in a trench coat and conversant in three languages.

But the childhood scars remain, compelling her to volunteer as an advocate for kamlari rights.

“I was robbed of my childhood. It was a horrible time and I will do whatever I can to end this practice, to free other girls,” she said.

Kamal Guragain, legal officer at the Nepalese non-profit CWISH (Children-Women In Social Service and Human Rights), estimates that Nepal is home to at least 1,000 kamlaris, with nearly half of them working in Kathmandu.
“Kamlaris still exist because their employers are not jailed or prosecuted, even though they are breaking the law,” Guragain .

According to the Freed Kamlari Development Forum (FKDF), there are more than 300 Kamlaris (girls forced into child labor) in western Terai districts of the country. The forum, along with other human rights groups has been urging the government to place the Kamlari tradition as a criminal act but the tradition still continues in Kailali district, far-western Nepal where they are living under exploitative situations. Nepal government had banned such practices about thirteen years ago.

Zeal Sharma

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