Nepali women rescued in Kenya will be repatriated soon, officials sayThe recent crackdown by the Kenyan government has exposed how Nepali women continue to be trafficked to African countries for sex.
Twelve Nepali girls who were rescued from a local club in the Kenyan city of Mombasa in April as part of the Kenyan authority’s crackdown on human trafficking racket are being repatriated to Nepal, officials told The Kathmandu Post on Thursday.
Ghana Shyam Lamsal, the deputy chief of mission at the Nepal Embassy in South Africa, which oversees Kenya, confirmed that the women are currently being processed for repatriation.
“In coordination with our consulate in Nairobi, we have managed to complete the process to send the women back to Nepal,” Lamsal told the Post in a phone interview. “Their tickets have already been arranged.”
The official said local NGOs paid for the airfare of the Nepali women, who have been said to be victims of human trafficking. The women were detained by Kenyan authorities in an early morning raid earlier in April in Nyali, a residential area in Mombasa.
During the raid, which was reported by multiple Kenyan news outlets, the owner of the local bar, a dual Canadian and British citizen, was also arrested and charged with running a sex trafficking ring involving women from multiple countries.
In recent years, Nepali girls have started migrating for work to African countries in search of lucrative jobs. Most of them, however, end up working at dance bars in countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, after reaching there through informal channels and recruitment agencies.
A recent investigation by the Daily Nation exposed how Nepali girls are being lured to Kenya with promises of well-paid jobs but are forced into sex trafficking once they reach the country. In interviews with four Nepali victims of the latest crackdown, which includes the women being repatriated by the Nepali government, the Kenyan daily said the Nepali women brought to Kenya were victims of sexual exploitation.
The women told the newspaper that they had reached Kenya after a phone conversation with the owner of the dance bar. The women said that Kenyan agents—the owner in their case—would arrange for the airfare, bear all the initial costs, and also pay them one month’s salary in advance before they even land in Kenya.
“We come to know about such cases of human trafficking only after they are rescued. If we knew about their conditions earlier or if they had contacted us, we could have rescued them immediately,” Lamsal told the Post.
Last year, seven Nepali women were rescued from a captive-like situation in a joint operation by the High Commission of India in Nairobi and Kenyan police.
Govinda Thapaliya, the spokesperson for the Anti-Human Trafficking Bureau of Nepal Police, told the Post that human trafficking cases involving Nepali citizens to African countries are fewer in comparison to India and other Gulf countries.
“However, every now and then, we come across such incidents of Nepali girls and women taken for work in dance bars and clubs in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Kenya and other African countries,” Thapaliya said.
A record maintained by Nepal Police shows that women who reach African countries are using both legal and illegal routes. Many of them take the official work permit, which is issued by the Department of Foreign Employment, required for working as a migrant worker in foreign countries.
However, law enforcement officials say, even after falling in the trap of the human trafficking racketeers and agents, most victims do not reach out to the authorities for help.
“If only the victims approach us and cooperate with us, then it helps us in busting such rackets,” said Thapaliya. “But even those who reach out to us and have knowledge about the illegal routes and activities hardly reveal anything.