Within Nepal, bonded labour exists in agriculture, brick kilns, the stone-breaking industry, and domestic work. Sex trafficking of Nepali women and girls increasingly takes place in private apartments, rented rooms, guesthouses, and restaurants. Nepali and Indian children are subjected to forced labour in the country, especially in domestic work, brick kilns, and the embroidered textile, or zari, industry. Under false promises of education and work opportunities, Nepali parents give their children to brokers who instead take them to frequently unregistered children’s homes in urban locations, where they are forced to pretend to be orphans to garner donations from tourists and volunteers; some of the children are also forced to beg on the street.
Neeta went to find work as a waitress to help her family. Upon arrival at the restaurant Neeta was forced to put on provocative clothes and dance naked for customers. One day she was told she was no longer allowed to leave and was forced into prostitution. Neeta was able to escape when her mother sought out the help of an NGO to find her.
I live with my parents in Kathmandu. Life at home is hard. My father is always drunk and doesn’t have a job, so my mother has to work. She works in construction, carrying bricks all day long. I thought I should help her, and one day a friend told me I could get a job at a restaurant in another part of Kathmandu. When I got there, I was offered work as a waitress. The restaurant wasn’t nice – it was dark with lots of flashing lights. I was afraid, but they said I shouldn’t worry, because I wouldn’t have to do anything I didn’t like.
But this wasn’t true. The clients arrived and the boss told me I had to be kind to them. Later, they told me my clothes weren’t good enough for this job, and they forced me to put on provocative clothes and then forced me to dance naked. I had to let them touch me. At first I told my mum that I was going to school, because they let me go home in the evening. But then one day everything changed: they told me I couldn’t leave and they forced me into prostitution.
My mother got very worried that I had been trafficked, and started looking for me. Finally, somebody told her about an NGO, Maiti Nepal, that helps victims of trafficking. She went to see them and they used their contacts to help find me. I was finally able to go home, and now I am studying at a school for trafficking survivors. In my class, all of the girls have been through similar experiences. One girl was sent to India and forced into prostitution when she was just 11; others lost their organs after traffickers took their kidneys.
I found out that the men at the restaurant had planned to sell me to a brothel in India. I was so lucky that my mother found me. If not, I don’t know where I would be now.
As told to the Guardian.