Development Dialogue

Development Dialogue is a language of contemporary discourses on human development which aims to stimulate each entity of the society for a new history of humanity. It stands for communicating the problems that people face and hence is more value-based than other units of human life. Envisioned with better quality of human life it admires the imagination of ordinary citizens, their daily concerns and necessities and circulate these elements in policy articulation.

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Breaking the Bonds of Slavery

Nepal carpet crisis pushing children into slavery back

With Nepal among the poorest and least-developed countries in the world and almost one-third of its population living below the poverty line, slavery is among the biggest problems it faces today. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many of these children are undocumented and without birth certificates.

Children as young as 6 years old are sold to indentured slavery for $30-$50 by their own family members to pay off debts. International Labor Organization report stated that children are made to work 14-16 hours every day mostly in brick kiln, coal mines, child prostitution, mug house, leather processing industry, coal mine, stone quarrying, match factory, house-hold helper, bonded labor, street children, mine and carpet factory, drug trafficking, transport sector etc. About 1.4 million children are not provided the salary for their work and 1.27 million children are working in worst forms of labor. 1 The victims of Kamalari, estimated to be at 10,000, also continue to be prevalent.  According to United Nations Special Report, the "Deukis" culture where rich men from feudalistic agricultural families with no children, procure young girls from poor rural Nepalese families and take them as mistresses and slave bonded laborers to produce offspring, then later thrown into prostitution has increased to nearly 30,000 in 2007 compared to 17,000 in 1992. The heart-wrenching part of it is that there is not enough support from government to address these problems. In fact, it has been said that even high officials also buy Nepalese girls from the village for $30 a year.

Challenging the Youth to Take Action

The increase of Non-government Organizations (NGO) over the years to help eradicate the problem has contributed in saving many of the victims of bonded slavery. Their presence has put pressure on the government to take action to help prevent slavery and rehabilitate victims. In March 2011, the Nepalese government announced its plan to provide €1.2 million to fund the training and reintegration of liberated girls. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare also approved a bill outlining the government's child-protection policies, which ban the practice of Kamalari.  

The existence and support from these NGOs have emboldened the victims, especially the Kamalari girls and Deukis to stand up and fight back against slavery. It has encouraged many of them to help other victims like them. This also poses a challenge to the youth to get involved and make a difference.  

It takes awareness of the causes and effects of slavery and action plans on how they can be mitigated or eradicated to be able to address the problem. Getting organized and collaborating with NGOs and the government are critical to carrying out preventive measures and rehabilitation of victims. It is just as important to integrate other factors such as education, poverty and culture into initiatives in addressing these issues.  

The challenge is not simple. It takes dedication and determination to make a difference...and it can be done.  

Source:   Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, 2011


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