Nepal is a Himalayan country located in South Asia, with a population of roughly 29 million people, the median age being 23. It is defined as one of the poorer and least developed countries in the world, in every sense. Women in Nepal have a very low socio-economic status, their situation affects their health, education, economy, and policy making. They are discriminated against in all aspects of their society. A woman’s life is heavily patriarchal; this includes her status, values, rights, and even decisions. Her father, husband, and son have more of a say in what she does on a daily basis than she herself does (Beyrer 2003).Women’s status in Nepal affects their health and education. The health status in Nepal is one of the lowest of the regions in South Asia, mainly pertaining to women. Their life expectancy is lower than that of a man.
High rates of premature pregnancy deaths are consistent throughout the area because women are marrying in the early ages of 15-19. In this country a woman’s greatest accomplishment is to get married and have a son. They also suffer from pregnancy complications, malnutrition, anemia, and other issues regarding the reproductive function. Infant mortality and child mortality rates are always fluctuating because of the lack of resources available to a woman and her child. High levels of malnutrition are also persistent in children. A woman’s education is also undervalued; their literacy rate is only 33%, while a man’s is 66%. In rural areas, young girls aren’t even allowed to attend school to obtain an education, they are considered to be others property. Women in this country generally do not receive an education, because it is not deemed as important.
As soon as they are “old enough” meaning early teens, they must look for a husband to sustain their family and themselves. Women are to instantly produce children, preferably a son because giving birth to a girl is frowned upon. In this society, men are the “powerful” ones that keep a family growing (Beyrer 2003).Economy and politics also have insufficient input from women because of their culture and society. Merely 45.2 per cent of what women earn is counted as economically active. In urban areas, women are employed in domestic or traditional jobs, all being low positions. In rural areas they barely diverge from employment outside their house, if they do its limited to: planting, weeding, and harvesting, agriculture, which is predominantly feminized. Women are not allowed to enter any professional professions. Only one woman has served as an ambassador (Gurung 2014). Women do not have a voice or representation in political decision-making, due to lack of education and resources.
Household responsibilities, mobility outside of household restricted, and social expectations are what hold back real change in women’s political status. Political participation is necessary, but insufficient. When faced with a political crisis, attendance from women is required, but once the crisis is over women return to their domestic lives. Sometimes they have an input in domestic expenditure or farm management, but never on an issue that is truly important. On the social level, a woman’s ethnic group defines her entire life. Nepal is extremely diverse, but can be separated into two main ethnic groups, the Indo-Aryan, and Tibeto-Burman. Women in the Indo-Aryan ethnic group do not integrate freely with the opposite sex. Women in these communities wear purdah, or veil to cover everything but their eyes. In such areas, it is considered proper for a woman to not involve herself in activities that do not concern her household.
Sexual purity of women is important to their culture, and arranged marriages are still common. On becoming a widow, a woman is not allowed to remarry, and property left behind is only inherited through the male line, meaning she claims nothing. In the Tibeto-Burman ethnic group, a woman is free to choose whomever to marry, and are respected for partaking in activities that do not revolve around the household. However, this is not common because of the political and cultural predominant Indo-Aryan ethnic group (Gurung 2014).Violence against women in Nepal is staggeringly high. Research projects in the country have resulted in 66% of women have gone through verbal abuse, 33% emotional abuse, 77% of perpetrators being their own family members (UNICEF 2011). According to Nepal police, common injuries reported by women were cuts and bruises, which was followed by eye injuries, sprains, burns, and dislocations.
Spousal violence reported contained injuries varying from deep wounds, broken bones and teeth, and other serious injuries. It is difficult to accurately record how much violence takes place because most victims are too frightened and do not report their incidents. In most cases, they live with the person harming them and afraid of being killed if they file a report against them (Konstantopoulos et al).Throughout Asia, the trafficking of women and young girls for the sole purpose of sex has created a range of health threats, human right violations, and prevention challenges. Sex trafficking is defined as modern-day slavery, which forces individuals most often being women and girls to perform commercial sex. This crime is widespread, but over the past decade has substantially increased in Nepal. Every year, 1 to 2 million women and girls are trafficked worldwide. Around 225,000 of them are from South Asia including Nepal.
According to the US State Department annual Trafficking in Persons report, Nepal is ranked a Tier 2 country (US Department of State 2011). Sex trafficking victims are not only forced to commit acts they do not wish, but also highly susceptible to major health risks. The industry is a source of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases; the long-term effects could range from infertility to cervical cancer. Within the years, there has been an increase in the amount of Nepali women and girls sexually trafficked into Indian brothels, when they return to Nepal most result in being HIV positive. Among survivors of sex trafficking, it is estimated that about 50% of victims seek medical care while in their situation. The reason sex trafficking has become such a global public health issue is due to the fact that most women that are in sex trafficking have no access to any health care or any form of treatment (Konstantopoulos et al).
Such an industry has so many victims due to deception, tricks, and coercion. None of these women and girls does what they do by choice. In Nepal this exploitation occurs for sociocultural and political reasons. An example being from the ‘Deuki’ system in Nepal that includes the rich families, wealthy aristocrats, and lords that gives such an option to purchase young girls to offer to temple idols in the Hindu tradition to make their wishes a reality. These girls were then not allowed to marry, which gives them no way of supporting themselves or their families beyond the contributions to the temple. With no other choice left, they go into prostitution. Another example could be from the women and girls from the ‘Badi’ community, which is the lowest caste in Nepal. They made their earnings by singing and dancing, but due to economic factors they were pushed into prostitution.
Push factors for these women and girls to become susceptible to sex trafficking is their geographic location, demographic backgrounds, socioeconomic position, and roles and position in their family (Gurung 2014). To address this issue, Nepal has set forth several laws and policies that focus on trafficking for the purpose of prostitution to try to prevent it from increasing. The MOWCSW reform bill effectively criminalizes prostitution for the first time in Nepal. Recent laws and orders in Nepal specifically limit the migration of women on an international level, but this control over travel does not prevent trafficking, it will just be conducted underground. Under the law, Nepal’s constitution ensures gender equality. The National Policy on Combating Trafficking includes duties by the government to discard laws that discriminate against women, instead taking steps to protect them by providing opportunities for employment. However, that has yet to be fulfilled completely as some laws are still discriminatory including travel.
In 2014, Nepal’s government increased attempts to convict suspected trafficking offenders; this resulted in a total of 203 convictions. Nepal’s National Plan of Action (NPA) was implemented with a new plan and increased funding allocations to all 75 districts to build at least three new village-level anti-trafficking committees. Efforts have been set in place, but little to no change has come from it. Law enforcement needs to be increased, also to ensure that the victims are not punished for what they have done while being trafficked. Public health should also be accessible for victims after what they endured (Brandon 2000).Even though many believe that sex trafficking occurs in under developed countries, we never think of Americans trafficking Americans, but it is prevalent in our own society. Under federal law in the United States, anyone that is under 18 years old that is induced into commercial sex is to be considered a victim of sex trafficking, regardless of whether the trafficker used coercion, force, or fraud (Alvarez 2016).
Set up across the United States, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received roughly 22 thousand sex trafficking cases inside the country since 2007 (National Human Trafficking Hotline). Also, many immigrants currently living in America could have been trafficked here. They were living in an under developed country with no means of obtaining money to keep themselves and families afloat, and were told they would get a job opportunity here that would pay well, an offer they couldn’t refuse. This happens often with Mexican women and their pimp brings them to Florida. As they arrived to America they realized they had been deceived and had no way of getting back to their families and forced into sex trafficking. In conclusion, in order to address gender inequalities and/or human right abuses women/ gendered minorities we must first become educated on it.
We must analyze the data and statistics in order to design interventions to address the needs of the victims. Building a capacity to get an audience to understand the link between gender inequality and human trafficking and many other global issues. Locally, as well as globally, health care access must be improved for victims. Also the quality of prevention of these issues, treatment, and care programs for women and girls that address these gender inequalities. Providing knowledge and skill by a village or community led facility that educates women and girls on sexual and reproductive health information and services. Working with law enforcement to protect victims, and respond to violence against women. Make and heavily enforce laws and policies that promote gender equality and human rights of women and girls. Promoting economic opportunities for women so they can support themselves and family in the long run. Keeping girls in school, and making it a safe environment for them to learn (Webster et al., 2007).
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