Several gaps and challenges exist in implementation of laws governing gender-based violence and trafficking in Nepal: Report

“There is almost no data on violence faced by men and people of other genders. Under-reporting is widespread, arising mainly out of fear of both retaliation and stigmatization.”

NL Today

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Kathmandu: The Asia Foundation has stated that several gaps and challenges exist in the implementation of laws and legal procedures governing gender-based violence and trafficking in persons in Nepal.

Fraudulence in labor migration, human smuggling and trafficking, and victims engaged in commercial sex is conflated with trafficking in persons is a concern, according to the report ‘Optimising Screening and Support Services for Gender-Based Violence and Trafficking in Persons.’

The report stated that checkpoint inspections at the border focus almost exclusively on female travelers. “There is no operating procedure or protocol for the identification of victims of trafficking or GBV. Officials rely mainly on visual cues and their experience to identify victims,” reads the report.

Information on GBV is available although rife with various shortcomings. In the case of TIP, information is sparse, scattered, and incomplete, according to the report. “There is almost no data on violence faced by men and people of other genders. Under-reporting is widespread, arising mainly out of fear of both retaliation and stigmatization.”

The research in Nepal has developed a bridging document to reflect the interlinkages between GBV and TIP, and highlights the need to improve screening and identification as well as service delivery for trafficking survivors through a holistic gender-based violence lens.

The regional convening of the research was held in Delhi on March 24 and 25 and featured key official and non-governmental stakeholders from India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

Speaking about the event, Nandita Baruah, Country Representative – India, The Asia Foundation said, “We are very happy with the positive response received from our eminent speakers and audience at this two-day meeting. The research unpacks the intersectionality between gender-based violence (GBV) and trafficking in persons (TIP) and underlines GBV as one of the critical push-factors for trafficking.”

“Informed by key informant interviews, stakeholder interviews, focus group discussions, review of laws and secondary literature, the study throws light on the link between GBV and TIP and the gamut of violence that victims suffer. It identifies certain country and sector-specific interventions that can be undertaken to help improve victim identification and ensure accesses to appropriate services in a time sensitive manner. We hope the recommendations and tools developed in partnership with experts will support action to stem human trafficking and improve victims’ access to service delivery”.

Deepak Thapa, Director of Social Science Baha, Nepal says “Conducted under the most difficult circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, the study was able to uncover the various challenges facing law enforcement officials and service providers in preventing both GBV and TIP and the impact it has on those affected, particularly in terms of screening and identifying victims. What came through strongly in discussions with all sides was how GBV is often a precursor to TIP and how trafficking itself contributes to violence, specifically against women.”

Suswopna Rimal, Senior Programme Officer at The Asia Foundation’s Nepal office says “Often trafficking in persons and Gender-based violence are looked as two different issues, overlooking the intersectionality between them.”

“This study has made an attempt to see both these issues in relation to one another and provided service providers with tools and recommendations for them to address these vulnerabilities while dealing with the victims of TIP and GBV. The study has also brought in voices from a diverse group of stakeholders regarding the integration and separation of services provided to TIP and GBV victims and we hope that the findings would be incorporated not just into policies and programs of the government but also helpful for organizations working directly with the victims”.

Charimaya Tamang, Founder of Shakti Samuha, Nepal said, “There are some differences, for instance, for GBV survivors, the issue is rooted at home so we need to manage their security at home and develop their self-esteem at home. If the cases of GBV are extreme, the survivors need to go to safe homes. In case of trafficking survivors, the services start from when the individuals are trafficked. In both cases (GBV and trafficking), confidentiality is required. Both survivors require protection”