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.
Alisha hoped to continue her studies but her family’s financial needs led her to take a job as a domestic worker in Kathmandu. Alisha was forced to work long hours with no breaks, had her food and movement restricted and was subjected to physical abuse by her employer.
I come from a very poor family. My father is a tailor and he would farm other people’s land, but it was hard to manage with just one person earning money
I went to a government school and passed my school leavers exam with top grades. I wanted to do more studying, but my family couldn’t afford it. My father asked me to forget about my hopes for further study and stay at home.
I met someone who said they knew a family in Kathmandu who were looking for help. She said I could go and work for them and study at the same time. So, I went to Kathmandu and began to work in that house and study at the local college. I was 16 years old.
Everything was okay at first, and then the wife who lived there began to complain about everything I did. She scolded and beat me.
Every day I would get up at 5am and clean the whole house. Then I could go to college for a few hours before coming back and doing all the cleaning and washing until 8pm. I never got time off on weekends.
One day the wife pulled my hair badly and attacked me for not polishing her husband’s shoes. I felt so humiliated and I cried a lot that day.
From then on, I was beaten and humiliated every day. I was only allowed to eat the leftovers of the owners’ food. There was a lot of space in the house, but I had to sleep in a small place under the stairs.
I stayed there for four years. I was scared to leave. If I had returned to my village, my family could not have afforded to look after me, but I was determined to get an education.”
Now I’m in my third year of a humanities degree. My family is very happy and proud that their daughter has achieved this.
When I was in that house, I couldn’t defend myself. I was not aware that my rights were being violated. Now I have the confidence to speak up against what is wrong.”
Narrative provided by Anti-Slavery International