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.
Rajitra was forced to marry at a young age, causing complications with her pregnancies.
There was a Hindu priest. He asked my age, but he asked my parents, not me. My parents said it’s time to marry—she is marriageable age. The priest accepted what my parents said and performed the ritual.
I got sick after having kids. I was feeling so weak. I couldn’t even eat rice. I have two daughters. All the people in society and my mother-in-law say you have to have a son. My husband says your health is more important—I don’t want to lose you. But I want to have one more.