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The kamlari nightmare - girl slaves are still a horrifying reality in Nepal

Think Change India
24th Feb 2016
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Slavery is banned in Nepal. But hidden behind the walls of city homes, some still keep young girls as slaves called kamlaris. These girls are from the Tharu community, an indigenous group that was stripped of its land and forced into bonded labour after Nepal’s first social order was introduced 160 years ago. Tharus farm the land of their landlord and, in return, give back half of what they produce. Often, they trade away their daughters as well.

Image: Hindustan Times
Image: Hindustan Times

In June 2013, kamlaris from all over Nepal protested in a bid to bring an end to slavery once and for all. The demonstrations were triggered by the mysterious death of Srijana, a 12-year-old kamlari girl, who burnt to death in her owner’s house. The police alleged it was suicide but the kamlaris were not convinced. The police retaliated against the demonstrators with violence.

Another kamlari, Sharda Chaudhary, talks about how she was abused. She slept in the bathroom and was raped by the landlord’s son. When she dared to complain, she was beaten up. Sharda worked for only three months. When she was sent back, her mother did not believe that she would survive, reports Aljazeera.

Nine-year-old Manjita Chaudhary had never spent a night away from her parents when her father sold her to a Nepalese policeman for R. 2,500. She left her family in western Nepal and travelled some 200 kilometres to her employer’s home near the Indian border. Her harsh new life began at 4am, the start of a daily routine in which she would clean her employer’s house, wash dishes, cook and then go to his relatives’ homes to do the same, before falling asleep just shy of midnight, reports Hindustan Times.

This social evil is prevalent not only in Nepal. Nepali girls have been forced to travel abroad as slaves.

Image: Free The Slaves
Image: Free The Slaves

Free The Slaves was founded in 2000—and today they are considered a leader and pioneer in the modern abolitionist movement. They have helped awaken the world to the fact that slavery still exists, why it does, and where it’s worst. They have developed a global blueprint for change to inform governments, international institutions, faith communities, businesses, and the public what they can do. Free The Slaves is now implementing community-based strategy in selected countries, demonstrating that their model works and that it is both scalable and replicable. Their ground-breaking research and rigorous evaluation informs their policy advocacy to strengthen anti-slavery laws and rid slavery from manufacturing supply chains and business practices.

Free The Slaves and it’s vision:

We help communities chart their own path toward sustainable freedom based on their unique needs and circumstances. We strengthen the capacity of grassroots organisations, government agencies, advocacy coalitions, and the media to take action. We support vulnerable communities through education, mobilization, and increasing access to education, vocational training, and essential services. We rescue those in slavery and help them rejoin their families and communities. We record and share success stories so the world can see what both slavery and freedom look like. And we systematically assess our work to ensure accountability and continuously improve our programs. Free The Slaves co-implements all community projects with and through locally-based organisations.

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