There are an estimated 171,000 people living in modern slavery in Nepal (GSI 2018). 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.
Narendra was one and half years old at the time of his wedding and his wife was six months old. When he was 16, his bride came to live with him and they met for the first time since the wedding.
My mother told me I was crying a lot at my bride’s house [the day of my wedding]. People brought me to [my mother to] breastfeed and then took me back to get married. It’s a tradition in this caste to get married very early.
I was scared. The bride came in, and I ran away to Delhi for three or four months. But then family and friends said, “You are married. You can’t get another wife. You have to come back.” So I did.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch