Tens of thousands of Nepalese girls and women are trafficked each year. They end up in brothels as sex workers or in homes and factories as slaves. They are trafficked within Nepal and to countries such as India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the UAE.
Nepal is traditionally a patriarchal society where women in general and girl children, in particular, are treated as second-class citizens. While this is changing in the cities and larger towns where people are more educated, discrimination still exists in rural areas, especially among low caste and marginalized indigenous communities. Girls are simply not valued as much as their brothers.
This discrimination manifests itself in many ways, but one of the most insidious is the failure to understand the significance educating a girl child. One of the reasons girls are valued less is because, traditionally, they have not been educated. And if they have little value, why educate them. This self-perpetuating spiral of ignorance and worthlessness results in girls being seen as expendable commodities, at least in relation to boys, and known risks are put aside if there is a chance that she can find work and send back much-needed cash to her family.
Girls and their families are tricked with promises of good paying jobs in glamorous cities, lured by proposals of marriage from handsome strangers and sometimes just taken and sold by middlemen known as “Dalals”. Nepal is a source country for many migrant workers and this has brought a new threat; Dalals now pose as manpower agents, actually taking money from the families of the girls, promising to find them work in another country, then selling them on as slaves.