Human Trafficking in Nepal: A Scenario, Challenges and Way Out


Shree Prasad Devkota and Indra Raj Bhattarai – TRANSCEND Media Service

11 Sep 2017 – Human trafficking is not only a serious concern and challenge for Nepal, it has become a global challenge particularly for developing and least developed countries.  There is a long history of Nepali girls and women trafficked for sexual purpose, exploitation and abuses to India and other parts of the world. According to American Bar Association (2011), Nepal has particularly become as a prime source country for international level in South Asia for trafficking girls into the sex industry. In recent years, the number of girls and women who have been transported for prostitution and other such activities related to violence is due to migration from rural to urban areas, establishment and expansion of entertainment sectors such like dance and cabin restaurants, hotels, massage center, and highway heads. Also, another reason for trafficking is due to illiteracy, poverty, unemployment etc. According to Newar (2012), an estimated 6000-7000 girls and women work in cabin restaurants, 3,000-4,000 in the dance bars, about 900 in the Dohari restaurants and an equal number in the massage parlors. Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare have identified 26 districts in particularly those prone to trafficking in 1998. However, the trend has been steadily increasing then after.

Several kinds of internal (within Nepal) and external (Outside of Nepal) trafficking are prevailing in Nepal.  It is difficult to locate origin, transit and destination points of internal and external trafficking; however, there are some districts of Nepal as origin and some common border points as major (Kakarvitta, Jogabani, Birjung, Bhairawa and Nepalgunj) transit points and more than 100 unofficial border points between Nepal and India. Traffickers use these entire borders to pass out due to open border between Nepal and India. No passports or visas are required for Nepali or Indian citizens to cross the borders. Except these, several agents and sub-agents are active to lure the girls and women by showing higher expectations and good life. They trap the girls/women by promising attractive job, false promises of marriage to rich husbands and financial loans to parents.

Nepal still has no information management system to track the record of these incidents. Therefore, it is difficult to collect data systematically and scientifically to identify the victims of trafficking.  Among the victims, majority of them are taken to India as the destination.  5000-7000 children and women are trafficked annually to India (PC and TAF, 2001) and about 12,000 children below 18 years are trafficked annually to India (ILO/PER Rapid Assessment, 2001). According to Joshi (2010), about 50 percent of Nepal’s female sex workers have previously worked in Mumbai and more than 200,000 Nepalese girls are involved in the Indian sex trade. It is said that they are abandoned and left stranded when they infected with HIV/AIDS. Likewise, the dimension of human trafficking has become broader as collective supply of labors by taking commission in national and international market, sell of human kidney, liver,  fat for cosmetic products, surrogacy and so on.

In such circumstances, the government, I/NGOs and Nepal and India police all agencies are working collectively to prevent the trafficking in the sex industry. All these agencies work vertically within their own mandates. Between 50 and 100 NGOs, INGOs and UN agencies are presently involved in various ways to fight against trafficking (Terre des homes, 2003). Though, the trafficking trend has been increasing, it needs to be eradicated for the humanity.  The major areas of intervention are awareness raising, prevention, rescue and rehabilitation, reintegration, advocacy, legal and paralegal training and sustainability of entire process of establishing victims in society.

The government of Nepal has allocated some budgets to assist the rescue and rehabilitation center of victims of trafficking.  In addition to this, a numbers of NGOs are engaged in safe migration issues and conducted different rescues and rehabilitation centre. Few organizations have provided school education, skill development training for economically independent and reintegrate them into society. Recently, the Department of Women and Children (DoWC) is the key responsible in implementation of women empowerment programs.  The GoN has envisioned four-layered committee on combating trafficking in all 75 districts. But, due to lack of transparency, laws, human resources and budget, these are not effectively conducted these centers.  Sustainability strategic plan is very challenging task for civil and governmental bodies. It does not only pursuit of health, quality, education and economic well-being of victims of trafficking but also thinks about the incoming events related to trafficking for future generations.

These days, the dimension of human trafficking has become broader. It was just girls trafficking in the past which has become human trafficking with different dimensions as collective supply of labors by taking commission in national and international market, kidney trafficking, sell of human liver, skin, fat for cosmetic products, surrogacy and so on.

It is reported in the data of Nepal government that about 8000-9000 women and girls are trafficked every year outside the country where as only 212 cases are registered in the year 073-074. Among the ceases, most of the cases are hostile because of lack of enough strong proof. Past experiences show that the victims couldn’t get proper justice because of lacking in investigation process. The main reason behind these all situations is the lack of understanding and coordination among the organizations involved in the work-chain. So, there need to have coordination among the sectors that are directly acting in the process of investigation and prosecution.


Shree Prasad Devkota is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. He is a Kathmandu University graduate, has a Master’s in Mathematics Education and M.phl in Development Studies. Currently he is chairperson of SDEF–Sustainable Development and Empowerment Forum, and has worked as a lecturer. He is researcher in the field development sectors in Nepal and has worked as consultant, monitoring and evaluation expert in different I/NGOs. Devkota has been working in the field of education of children, marginalized and socially excluded groups, especially on conflict management regarding the post-conflict situation in Nepal. He has published several research articles in national and international journals. Books: Teacher’s Lived Experiences and Contextualized Mathematics, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, 2012. Education in Nepal from Dalit Perspective, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, 2013. Conflict in School and Its Management by Shree Prasad Devkota and Shiba  Bagale, Scholars’ Press, Germany, 2015. Life and Education of Children in Nepal (Pre and Post Peace Agreement a Comparative Study) Adroit Publishers , India,2017).

Indra Raj Bhattarai is program director of KI Nepal, an organization working to end human trafficking and gender based violence. He is a visiting faculty in Kathmandu University. Mr. Bhattarai has a Masters degree in Anthropology from Tribhuvan University and a Masters Degree in Environment Education and Sustainable Development from Kathmandu University in Kathmandu, Nepal. He also has Masters of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Development Studies from Kathmandu University. He has been involved in some other social organizations working in woman and children rights. He has contributed as a team member of Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare in various policy making process regarding human trafficking, women and children rights etc. Mr. Bhattarai worked for a long time in education sector as a college teacher and as campus chief of a college. He also served as resource person in National Network against Girls Trafficking. He is a visiting faculty of Masters in Sustainable Development program in Kathmandu University. Recently, he is elected as Executive Board Member of Alliance Against Trafficking of Women and Children in Nepal (AATWIN), a network of 40 organizations working against human trafficking and human rights.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Sep 2017.

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