Kathmandu: A report published by the World Bank Group entitled “Vulnerability to Human Trafficking in Nepal From Enhanced Regional Connectivity” states that Nepal is emerging as a transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.
The study for the report was conducted by Asia Foundation between late 2019 and early 2020 and was released in December 2021.
The study covers three transport corridors: Corridor 1 (Kathmandu-Naubise-Mugling), Corridor 2 (Birgunj-Pathlaiya), and Corridor 3 (Pathlaiya-Dhalkebar). The corridors cut across nine districts in Nepal: Kathmandu, Dhading, Chitwan, Bara, Rautahat, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Parsa, and Sarlahi. These are the those locations that have high cross-border migration along the Indo-Nepal corridor, internal migration, and are source districts for human trafficking.
According to the report, the major factors that are making Nepal an emerging transit and destination for human trafficking are multiplicity of routes and ease of travel, the existence of historical trade relations including consumer market, and relatively thin presence of law enforcement agencies. Similarly, the other factors that are accelerating the risk of trafficking are lack of education, false promises of marriage, and lack of employment opportunities.
Although the most recognized form of trafficking in person is sex trafficking, with the changing modus operandi, other forms of trafficking include forced labor, forced marriage, organ extraction, child labor, child marriage, domestic servitude, and cheap labor.
According to the NHRC, 35,000 people were victims of trafficking in 2017/2018; however, only 479 human trafficking cases were registered at the district courts (NHRC 2018).
“Although the most recognized form of Trafficking in person (TIP) is sex trafficking, with the changing modus operandi, other forms of trafficking include forced labor, forced marriage, organ extraction, child labor, child marriage, domestic servitude, and cheap labor,” the report reads. “Forced labor of men, women, and children is most prevalent in agriculture, brick kilns, and stone quarries, while domestic servitude in addition to the sex trafficking of Nepali women and girls takes place in private homes, rented rooms, guest houses, and restaurants.”
Moreover, the study has also found out that traffickers have also been operating under the cover of educational consultancies to lure young children to go abroad for education.
“Many education consultancies in the country are reportedly involved in deceitful activities like human trafficking, misuse of foreign currency, and money laundering.”