There are an estimated 171,000 people living in modern slavery in Nepal. Internal trafficking is significant in Nepal. Girls are trafficked internally for forced labour, sexual exploitation and forced marriage. A significant number of girls are estimated to be trafficked for sexual exploitation in Kathmandu’s entertainment sector and across the open border with India to Mumbai and other urban centres. Recent research in Kathmandu found that between 40 and 60 per cent of the females interviewed in entertainment sector workplaces (massage parlours, dance bars and cabin restaurants) were under the age of 19. Poverty is a significant driving factor for the exploitation and forced marriage of young girls in the country as although levels are declining, an estimated 10 million people live on incomes between USD1.90 and USD3.20 a day.
When Soneeya was 15 years old, she was forced to marry a man 13 years older. She was subjected to physical and sexual abuse daily.
When I was 15, my parents and relatives arranged my marriage. They did not ask me if I wanted to get married and I was shocked and terrified. I had never even met the man I was to marry. I did not know what to do.
They introduced me to him one night, and the next day we got married.
He was 28 – 13 years older than me. They forced the decision on me. It was a forced marriage.
For five days everything was fine. The next night he came home. He tied my arms and legs like an animal. Then he raped me.
After that he used to come home drunk every night, beat me and rape me.
When I got pregnant at 16, I was really scared. There was no one I could talk to. When I informed my husband, I thought he would be happy, but instead he slapped me. ‘I have no job. Why did you get pregnant?’ he said. He threw 3000 rupees at me and told me to get an abortion.
I went to the hospital, but I couldn’t go through with it. When I went home and told my husband, he beat me with a belt until I was rescued by his brother.
After that my husband left.
My son is 11 years old now and I am proud of him. When I used to give him money for snacks, he’d save it for his tuition fees.
Through this paralegal work, I’m very confident now. I’m so happy I brought up my son independently. I’m filing for divorce and I am proud to be able to sign the divorce papers and show my husband what I have become.
I don’t want young girl’s lives to be like mine. I’d advise them not to get married at an early age and regret it later. I tell them to get an education first. Education is a must.
Narrative provided by Anti-Slavery International