Tackling Human Trafficking
Rupa Sharma ‘Neha’
The government’s commitment to make foreign employment dignified and secure has always been challenged by a network of human traffickers. Despite the high talk about the dignity, service and security, a group of people from the agency, agent and their supporters have created a situation of mistrust. The network of human traffickers is unbelievably stronger than we think, which needs stronger investigation and mechanism at multi-lateral levels.
Basically, New Delhi is becoming a main transit hub for human traffickers who send workers to the Gulf countries, Iraq, and some African countries. These routes have been adopted at a time when there is a debate and discussions at the national level on ensuring secure and dignified foreign employment.
Of late, the traffickers have chosen a new route via New Delhi, Sri Lanka and the Gulf countries. The government has already instructed the concerned agencies to stop Nepali people from going to Sri Lanka via New Delhi, but it seems that these efforts are not yielding the desired results.
A month ago, sixteen Nepali women were rescued by the New Delhi Police. Mainly, illiterate, gullible and honest girls from the village areas are being lured by the trafficking agents in the name of providing attractive employment in the Gulf countries. Some time ago, Puja Pun was arrested from the airport in New Delhi.
There are several such cases in New Delhi where Nepali girls were rescued after being discovered that they had been sold by middlemen. Such cases have raised questions on the effectiveness of the steps taken by the government agencies and other organisations working to create awareness against trafficking.
It is the main responsibility of the government agencies to conduct effective investigation on the working of traffickers and taking action against them. As per the international human rights provisions, people should be allowed free movement, and there should not be any restriction on it. But, when it comes to cases relating to foreign employment, such provisions are always a matter for rethinking because migrant workers are often duped by traffickers.
Among many victims, honest and illiterate women are made to go through a lot of pain. Those victimised girls who are facing hurdles and hardships in foreign lands should be rescued and brought back to the country and properly rehabilitated in the family or society.
The Nepali Embassy in New Delhi is working to keep a close eye on human trafficking, but due to lack of manpower and strong willpower it is not doing its best. The role of Nepali embassies is always crucial to deal with the issues of the problems faced by the migrant workers, especially women. Such issues are surfacing almost every day. SAARC as a regional body is working to control human trafficking, but what it has done is not sufficient.
There is just paper and lip service about controlling human trafficking; therefore, there is a need for taking stronger measures. The Nepal Police has introduced a hotline (1177) to receive complaints from the people who are duped and cheated in foreign employment. People can lodge their complaints even from abroad. The efforts were taken by SSP Sarbendra Khanal who is doing a lot to control human trafficking. But only establishing a hotline is not sufficient.
As Nepal has tightened the process to give labour permission to those countries prohibited for employment, there is a tendency of using the New Delhi route. Despite efforts made by the government, there have not been substantial positive changes. There is a misperception in the society that whether legal or illegal, the only purpose of foreign employment is earning an income, which has largely contributed to the country’s economy. But in this process, women seeking to work abroad become victims.
There is an increasing need of a fund targeting women and their participation at the policy making level to address those problems in the long-run. The problem of girl trafficking will decrease if there is an environment for the economic autonomy of women by providing them low interest loans to start a business.
The increasing trend of girls being trafficked through New Delhi should be a matter of concern for all the countries. Not only Nepal and India, other concerned countries should be serious about forming a mechanism to control this. Obviously, the greater role needs to be taken by the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi. It is through this route that girls are also trafficked to destinations like the Maldives and Afghanistan.
So, the key issue is forming a mechanism of all concerned countries and carrying out proper investigation and taking action against the culprits. The role of SAARC in this regard is always vital. But this issue seems to be overshadowed in this regional body. So, there is a need of closer coordination among the SAARC countries to tackle this issue in time.