Modern day slaveryTrafficking is a thriving business whose constant evolution makes it tough to combat effectively
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is a global phenomenon and a reprehensible crime. It is one of the worst violations of human rights, directly impinging on human liberty, dignity and the right not to be held in slavery or involuntary servitude.
In Nepal, despite a plethora of programmes aimed at fighting the scourge, TIP remains a thriving business. On Tuesday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) released a report ‘Trafficking in Person 2015-2016’ which showed that over 6,200 Nepalis were trafficked while around 3,900 went missing in the fiscal year 2015-2016. The number of people trafficked may have decreased by 2,000 from what it was in fiscal year 2014-15, but this is hardly a cause for relief as statistics also reveal that the number of attempts at trafficking increased from 7,500 in 2014-15 to 13,200 in 2015-16.
Particularly susceptible to trafficking are women and children. As many as 60 percent of the 6,200 persons trafficked were female and 70 percent of the untraceable 3,900 were also female (50 percent adults and 50 percent children). Of course, the actual numbers could be much higher, as reliable data on trafficking are notoriously difficult to obtain.
The NHRC report also highlights alarming trends of trafficking that have recently emerged; the scope of destination countries has been widening to include not only India and Gulf countries, but also China, South Korea and Afghanistan. Now, victims are being trafficked for forced sex, marriage, as ‘orchestra dancers’ or as viable organ donors. The forms and dimensions of trafficking are constantly evolving, making it increasingly difficult to combat effectively.
A lot of trafficking takes place via India and Tibet. Fuelling this cross-border trafficking is a steady stream of victims who work in Nepali entertainment establishments. These workers are sexually exploited and deprived of designated remuneration. Their vulnerabilities, which have increased after the 2015 earthquake, put them at risk of trafficking. Nepali migrant workers too find themselves victimised, and cases of untimely demise, injury, mental illness, isolation, separation from the family, abuse and exploitation have been widely reported.
The NHRC points out that although the Nepal government has outlined a number of policy and programme initiatives such as the National Plan of Action, the effort to combat TIP has not been adequate. Institutional mechanisms to monitor TIP attempts are ineffective, and the budget for rescue and repatriation of trafficking victims insufficient. Somewhat promising, however, is the collaborative effort of state agencies, NGOs, development partners and media to combat human trafficking. The NRHC has made a number of recommendations addressing issues of prevention, protection, reporting system, monitoring and prosecution. Implementing these recommendations would go a long way towards tackling TIP effectively.