Former Kamlaris demand ID cardsFormer Kamlaris (indentured girl labourers) have urged the government to keep its promise of providing them identity cards.
Former Kamlaris (indentured girl labourers) have urged the government to keep its promise of providing them identity cards. Almost three years ago, the government had signed a nine-point agreement with Kamlari System Elimination Agitation Committee, who had taken to the streets demanding various rehabilitation and benefit programmes. The government has not implemented the agreement so far.
“We want an official document from the government, stating we were victims of bonded labour. How can we expect the government to rehabilitate us if it cannot even fulfil a simple request like providing us identity cards?” said Manita Tharu, a former Kamlari.
Nepal has ratified a number of international conventions against forced labour, debt bondage and slavery. The country’s constitution also prohibits forced labour in any forms. As for the traditional systems of bonded labour like Kamlari and Kamaiya, they were outlawed in 2000.
Despite these efforts to put an end to the practice of slave-keeping, Kamlari system still exists in Nepal’s western plains.
According to Fakalu Tharu, an advocate of Kamlari rights and liberation, there are still around 300 Kamlari girls in Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kanchanpur and Kailali districts.
“Freeing these girls and young women has become difficult because the government does not have a dedicated mechanism to combat the ill practice,” he said.
The government data shows that 12,700 Kamlaris have been rescued so far and some of them do not have parents or close relatives, making them the ones who need rehabilitation programme the most.
Radhika Aryal, joint secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said the government will soon start distributing ID cards to former Kamlaris.