Human trafficking is a serious crime and grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall prey into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad.
Not only poor countries like Nepal, due to globalization almost every country in the world has been involved in trafficking, whether as an origin, transit or destination for victims.
According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century, both in the United States and around the world.
Victimizing nearly about 27 million adults and 13 million children around the world, human trafficking business around the globe is estimated to generate a profit of $9 billion to $31.6 billion. Half of these profits are made in industrialized countries like Japan, UK, U.S., India, China, among others.
The report released by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in August this year has shown that Nepal has made ‘progress through increased efforts to prevent human trafficking, as well as modest improvements in law enforcement efforts and efforts to protect victims’, with prosecution of suspected trafficking offenders in 2014, resulting in 203 convictions.
As this progress is not enough, the U.S. Department lists Nepal as a “tier2” country in its ‘Trafficking in Persons 2014 report, which means the government does not meet the minimum standards to eliminate this injustice.
The Commission report of 2014 published in same month had indicated a numbing increment in the rate of human trafficking by 66.34 percent in one-and-half years as the number of people trafficked or attempted for trafficking increased to 29,000 in 2012/13 as compared to 11,500 in 2011.
The report entitled “Trafficking in Persons especially on Women and Children in Nepal” has come up with three major purposes for trafficking: sexual exploitation, labor exploitation and entertainment. It has also pointed that women from Nepal are being trafficked to India, Gulf countries, Khasa, Tibet and Bangladesh, among others. Almost half of the trafficking survivors are aged between 16 and 25.
The report further reads that cross-border trafficking of children for labor exploitation appears especially in circus performance, agriculture, manufacture and construction work while internal trafficking of children is for forced labor in sectors such as embroidery, domestic works, bricks kilns and young girls for providing obscene entertainment in massage parlors, cabin restaurants and dance bars.
Similarly, smuggling of girls to South Korea for marriage has also been identified as new emerging trafficking phenomenon in the country. According to the NHRC Observation and Monitoring Report of 2013, nearly 1000 female migrants were lured for going to South Korea via marriage bureau. But sadly only 144 cases related to trafficking were reported to police in 2012-13.
Nepal ranks 20th in the world on the Global Slavery Index (fifth out of 27 in the Asia Pacific region) due to the widespread occurrence of trafficking. The Index 2013 had estimated that at least 250,000 to 270,000 Nepalis were enslaved, of which at least 6,250 to 6,750 were believed to be trafficked.
Studies has shown that poverty, gender-based violence, unemployment, lack of education, gender inequalities, lack of awareness of safe migration and weak laws related to combating to violence, open border with India etc are responsible for making women and children vulnerable to trafficking.
The above mentioned data of NHRC’s report is based on study carried out by various governmental and non-governmental organizations. As government doesn’t actively participate in collecting and interpreting data, it is difficult to arrive at more accurate figures. Study suggests as traffickers are expert in taking their prey to destinations through clandestine routes, using many tricks and if necessary even bribing border security personnel, the report lacks these numbers.
Similarly, it has been found out that large number of cases go unreported mainly due to lack of criminal justice knowledge, lack of trust in police, lack of security to the victims and witness, lack of knowledge of service delivery mechanism and on the top of these due to fear, threat, stigma attached and lack of resources. Thus, it clearly indicates that the number is much bigger than NHRC report has revealed.
The government enacted Human Trafficking and Transportation Control Act in 2007 to protect and rehabilitate victims. But the government failed to implement the Act effectively. The same year National Committee on Combating Trafficking (NCCT) was formed which too later became ineffective. This clearly reflects the intention of government regarding curbing the human trafficking.
In Nepal to combat human trafficking from several decades’ strong voice has been raised by many national and international organizations working in this sector. Despite this, reports of various organizations published from time to time, for instance - recent NHRC’s report indicates no significant progress as it should have been. This has raised a big question mark on the efforts made so far by various pressure groups and organizations and fines and imprisonment for human trafficking having been made tougher over the years.
To sum up, the above evidences clearly signals that the high time has come to launch a national movement to give immense pressure on the concerned government authorities for taking all possible steps to end this heinous crime and ensure the fundamental rights and dignity of its citizens. Let’s join hands together, make our voice louder and not give any more chance to government this time to escape from its responsibility by citing various reasons.
[M.A. in Conflict, Peace & Dev. Studies, TU WM, Foreign affairs correspondent. Past: General Secretary, Young Philosophers’ Society (YPS)]