There are an estimated 171,000 people living in modern slavery in Nepal. Within Nepal, bonded labour exists in agriculture, brick kilns, the stone-breaking industry, and domestic work. Sex trafficking of Nepali women and girls increasingly takes place in private apartments, rented rooms, guest houses, and restaurants. Nepali and Indian children are subjected to forced labor in the country, especially in domestic work, brick kilns, and the embroidered textile, or zari, industry. Under false promises of education and work opportunities, Nepali parents give their children to brokers who instead take them to frequently unregistered children’s homes in urban locations, where they are forced to pretend to be orphans to garner donations from tourists and volunteers; some of the children are also forced to beg on the street. According to Human Rights Watch, thirty-seven percent of girls in Nepal marry before age 18 and 10 percent are married by age 15, in spite of the fact that the minimum age of marriage under Nepali law is 20 years of age. UNICEF data indicates that Nepal has the third highest rate of child marriage in Asia, after Bangladesh and India.
Babita Tharu was married at age 11 to a man about 8 years older than her.
I did not want to get married, but I had to because there was no one to take care of me. My mother went to live with her second husband and his first wife, so she couldn’t keep me along. So my father married me off. We had no food and no proper clothes to wear.
We were so poor I worked as a servant just to feed myself. I started working when I was eight or nine. I looked after a baby. [My employers] said I could go to school too. But when I got there they never sent me.
I was exchanged. That means my brother married a girl from this village and I married my brother’s wife’s brother…. Because we were so poor, no one would give their hand to us. Because we were so poor we couldn’t pay for any wedding party or anything.
I didn’t realize I was pregnant. I didn’t want a baby so soon, but my husband did. I was unconscious until three days after the surgery [an emergency Csection] I want another baby. But the doctor has advised me not to. We cannot afford another loan if I have to undergo another surgery.
My husband is not good—he drinks and beats me and takes ganja.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch