We have an update from Binod Chapagain, Director of Free the Slaves’ Nepal office. Two case studies show how Nepalese women are bought and sold and sent all over the world to be used as slaves, trafficked multiple times, into different countries.
Alexandra Robinson, a human rights lawyer and former FTS staffer, conducted a study with SASANE, a Nepalese legal advocacy organization established by female survivors of human trafficking. The study yielded the following two case studies of women doubly trafficked, first within Nepal, then outside of Nepal. One woman was sent to Kuwait. The other was trafficked to Mumbai, then Saudi Arabia. The names of the two survivors have been changed to protect their identities.
Sita Sunawar, age 38, Sindhupalchowk
My name is Sita Sunawar and I am 38 years old. In 2066, Baisakh, I made a passport for foreign employment. One person told me to go to Kathmandu, so I went there, and lived there for three months. After three months, I left from Kathmandu Airport to Kuwait to be a domestic worker. In Kuwait, women from Nepal were kept in a room and the Kuwaitis used to choose us just like goats and sheep. I was chosen too.
I went to work in one house, and I asked my owner if he knew who sent me to him. He told me that I was sold by a broker for 500 Kuwaiti R.S. Again, I was sold by that owner to another for 450 Kuwaiti R.S. There, I faced many problems; I had to work such long hours with bare feet on the cold floor. My hands and feet started swelling so much that I was not able to work anymore.
When I was too sick to do my work, my landlady started brutalizing me, beating me badly. I could not stand it anymore and I went to the employment agency that arranged my work, trying to make them realize that I was sick and was being abused. But they didn’t believe me.
I started secretly calling my family in Nepal and told them about my condition. I asked my husband to rescue me from there as soon as possible. I called him time after time, crying and screaming for him to rescue me; he tried, but nothing happened.
I asked my landlady to let me leave the house and go back to Nepal, but she said that I was bought in money for household work and only if I paid the money back I could go. My health was deteriorating, but finally, my brother paid the money to my owner, and after three months, I was sent back to Nepal.
In Nepal, I asked our Government and the police for help and for justice. I often visited the District Police Station. During this time I met the staff of Gramin Mahila Shreeyanshil Pariwar and they are supporting me. But that police will not accept my application.
The person who trafficked me is roaming around freely, while I am still suffering the infection and disease that I suffered in Kuwait did not receive medical treatment for. My society now calls me bad names and neglects me everywhere I go. I am not getting justice, and I am tired of visiting the police station. I can’t feed my children doing small and simple works. I want to do some kind of business, but I have no support.
Maya Baniya, age 32, Makwanpur
My name is Maya Baniya. I was married when I was 15 and I have three children. My marital situation was very poor. We didn’t have any land to farm and the agent from my village tried to persuade me all the time, telling me that I could earn a living if I went abroad. She asked for 30,000 rupees for my application fees. I know my agent’s name. She is a woman. She betrayed me and sent me to Bombay. I stayed there for one month, and then I was sent to Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia, human beings were sold for labor. One master bought me and forced me to do so much work, but he didn’t give me food to eat. I was not allowed to call my family in Nepal. I had to work from the early morning until so late at night, only getting a few hours of sleep. If I didn’t wake up exactly at 5:00 am, they would beat me so badly that I would get injured. I worked all day and all night. Due to their merciless beating, my teeth are so weak; they even poured acid on me, and my hair started to fall out. My physical and mental states were so bad that I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I ran away from the house while I was throwing out the trash, but while I was roaming the streets the police arrested me since Nepali women were not allowed to walk outside. They took me to jail, which I thought was a more secure place for me than the house I worked at. I spent six months in that jail.
There, I met one woman from Makwanpur and she was about to be released. I gave her a letter to give to my family explaining my condition and begging them to rescue me. Because of that letter, my husband sought out the help of the organization Naari Ship Shreejana Kendra, and they helped me return back to Nepal.
Now, I am so weak and my health is too poor to do any work.
FTS partners with four local groups: Shakti Samuha in Kathmandu; Rural Women’s Innovative Society (GMSP) in the Sindhupalchowk district; Women’s Skill Creation Center (WOSCC) in the Makwanpur district; and the Freed Kamaiya Women Development Forum in Kailali.