Children of Teresa Academy depicting their painting skills
Bishworam Khadka, the Director of Maiti Nepal addressing the awareness program organized at Jiri, Dolakha( a remote district) on the occasion of 6th National Anti-trafficking day
The Chairperson and Director of Maiti Nepal inaugurating a special function organized on the annual day of maiti Nepal
Staff felicitated for long term service
Awareness raising activities organized at Jiri, Dolakha on the occasion of 6th Anti Human Trafficking day.
Various products made by Maiti Nepal's workshop
Volunteer of maiti Nepal inspecting vehicles
The small hotels, restaurant sector, massage parlours in Nepal have emerged as a visible intermediary supply site in the context of internal as well as cross-border trafficking of girls and young women. The last 5-6 years have seen an unprecedented number of women and girls entering employment as workers in dance, cabin restaurants and massage parlours in Nepal. In the past, in Nepal as in other countries in South Asia, men and boys have almost entirely dominated this sector of employment. Due to relaxation of social restrictions on females entering formal employment coupled with a quickly growing demand for formal employment among Nepalese women, many thousands are now employed as waitresses, hostesses, dancers, masseur etc. in restaurants and massage parlours throughout the country.
A survey of female restaurant workers in Kathmandu (Meet Nepal, 2003) showed that
59% of those interviewed were married, although many of these were responsible for
female-headed households. Perhaps as many as one-fourth of female restaurant
workers (including many of those married) are children, below the age of 18.
Women and girls employed in the restaurants and massage parlours have taken such
employment for a number of reasons: many have been displaced from their
families/communities in rural areas due to the present conflict; many have been
forced to live independently, often with their children, due to domestic violence;
many have responsibility of looking after their parents, brothers and sisters; and many
have been displaced from previous employment due to closure of many garment
factories in the last few years.
As most of the girls and women working in Nepal’s restaurant industry have taken
employment out of severe economic need, they have little power to assert their rights
as workers. In consequence, according to two surveys of female restaurant workers
(Meet Nepal 2003, Maiti Nepal 2003), many of these women and girls have been
forced to work in extremely poor health and safety conditions, receive very low
salary, are often denied wages or forced into indebtedness to their employers, and are
frequently forced to conduct activities which are deleterious to their physical and
social well-being, in particular entertaining male customers with the consequence of
physical and sexual abuse.
Because these women and girls are without support or protection – either within the
workplace or from being displaced from their family/community – it has been
frequently noted that they are at extremely high risk of being trafficked for
commercial sexual exploitation and worst forms of child labour. A significant but
unknown number of women and girls have ‘disappeared’ from restaurant workplaces,
and most are presumed to have been trafficked into prostitution or other forms of
harmful labour. In the study conducted by ILO -IPEC on "Internal Trafficking of
Prostitution” the respondents preferred alternative occupation with respect to what
they were doing. This finding has been confirmed by that of the 2004 ILO/IPECfunded
study by the National Human Rights Commission, investigating the risk of
trafficking among female restaurant workers.
Public concern has arisen over the conditions of female restaurant and massage
parlour workers in Nepal. In 2003, a monitoring committee headed by the Chief
District Officer of Kathmandu Municipality was formed to address the issue. This 15-
member committee includes representatives from the Ministry of Women, Children
and Social Welfare, Maiti Nepal and other NGOs such as LACC, the Nepal
Restaurant and Small Hotel Workers Union, the Nepal Restaurant and Bar Owners
Association, police, the District Administration Office of Kathmandu, Department of
Small Cottage Industry, and others.
A significant number of girls under 18 years old are working in this sector. Many are
highly vulnerable to trafficking and should be immediately withdrawn from the
workplace. Existing child rehabilitation services in Nepal need significant
improvement so as to ensure effective prevention of trafficking.
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