There is no doubt that slavery still exists in the world, and that it’s deep rooted and spreading at an alarming rate.
Modern day slavery exists in various forms, which includes slavery based on debt bondage, forced marriage, sale or exploitation of children, human trafficking, and forced labor. The whole world is fighting against this.
The United Nations observes International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on December 2nd of every year to remind people that modern slavery is directly opposed to human rights. To help restore these rights to unfortunate victims, many reforms were made, especially in developing countries, but all of these efforts seem to have been negated after the 1st Global Survey on slavery was published on December 10, 2013.
In this survey, it was found that around 29.8 million people are victims of modern slavery worldwide. The numbers are shocking, especially since we believed that inequality was decreasing worldwide – but the grim reality is just the opposite.
The source and destination countries both are fiercely affected, but the burden lies with developing countries since they are the source for developed countries. The worldwide slavery industry is huge, with trafficking constituting a 32 billion dollar (USD) industry. Approximately 1.2 million victims of trafficking are minors, most of who, around 43%, are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, while 32% are for involuntary servitude, and 25% for a mixture of both.
These statistics have startled Nepal because Nepal is ranked 5th in the Global Slavery Index. However, if we open our eyes to what’s happening in Nepal,it’s likely we will encounter victims of modern slavery with little effort.
Nepal has modern slavery within its borders and has been one of the major sources of slaves for other countries, especially India, where Nepalese girls and young women suffer this fate. These slaves are easily transported to India, basically due to the open border. Just in Nepal, at least, but probably more than, 10,000-15,000 girls are being sold yearly to India; it seems an overwhelming situation.
What is the reason? The obvious answer is poverty and lack of awareness.
What is the solution? The solution is education for young girls and skills enhancement or capacity building for women; educating girls is the most powerful and effective way to address global poverty.
Isn’t this an easy solution to prevent our sisters, mothers, and daughters from being enslaved? However, it is not easy for a family to educate girls with less than $2 per day income.
It costs far less in dollars and efforts to educate a girl than rescue her after the fact, and the attendant costs of counseling, psychological and medical aid, with comparatively little success of restoring her to a normal life. Many rescued trafficked girls cannot bear their memories and spiral into suicide. Of course, rescuing these girls is still vital, but preventing this horror for them seems much more desirable and logical.
So why not support girls’ education and rescue girls and women before they are enslaved, rather than waiting for them to be enslaved and then rescuing them? What good will the victim of slavery bring to society if they are already in a state of trauma? Why let them be traumatized when the solution to all these is in our reach?
Nepal could be free from or, at least, experience a drastic reduction in modern slavery if we can just educate as many girls and women as possible; and from today, imagine how it will be 10-15 years from now. A new cycle will be created with many more educated women, an increased standard of living and, ultimately, a slave-free country.
Please consider these points and let’s work together towards achieving not only a high literacy rate among girls as well as strive for a high degree of empowerment for women but also combat modern day slavery for good in Nepal.