[Stop-traffic] Re:Abolition of bonded labor in Nepal

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] Re:Abolition of bonded labor in Nepal
From: Kevin Bales (kbbales@hotmail.com)
Date: Mon Jul 17 2000 - 11:24:11 EDT

Dear Friends,

I'm sure you will like some good news: the Nepalese government has, after
increasing pressure from international and local NGO's made a clear
declaration abolishing bonded labor. While it is primarily concerned with
agricultural debt bondage, this should help in the work against the ongoing
trafficking of Nepali women into India which usually involved debt bondage.
From Nepal news:

D-Day for Kamaiyas

Kathmandu, July 17: Nepal has declared the practice of keeping bonded
labourers a punishable offence and annulled all contracts verbal or written
used for employing such workers, effective today.

The announcement comes in the wake of a five-day protest launched by bonded
labourers from five mid and far-western districts, who were rounded up by
police sometime after the announcement was made in Parliament.

The minister said that all Kamaiyas (bonded labourers) were free from
bondage, irrespective of the debt they owned to their employers.

He added that the government’s decision also annuls all contracts written or
oral used for exploitative use of labourers, adding that the government
would table a bill to that effect in the Parliament’s on-going 18th session.

“We were not officially informed about the Cabinet decision and hence we
organized the rally as planned,” said one protester.

The Kamaiya freedom campaign was launched on International Labour Day, about
45 days back, when 16 bonded labourers had petitioned the District
Administration Office seeking justice against exploitation.

The practice of employing bonded labourers was in vogue in five mid and
far-western Terai districts: Dang, Kailali, Kanchanpur, Banke and Bardiya.

Under the system, agriculture workers were bonded to landowners when they
failed to repay debt. The indebtedness was passed on to the eldest son of
the family of the Kamiya after the death of the bonded labourer.

Under this system, the entire family of the indebted person had to work for
the same employer, who also exchanged them at will.

A government survey conducted in 1995 in Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and
Kanchanpur had recorded 15,152 Kamaiya families consisting of 83,375
individuals. BASE, a Dang-based NGO, says 98 percent of the Kamaiyas are
Tharus, the original inhabitants of the Nepal Terai. Nepalnews.com yl NeTil

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