The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) definition of trafficking is: recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or reception of a person by means of threat, use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, or fraud, in order to exploit the person.
All countries are affected as either source or destination or a combination of both, but the emerging countries tend to be the countries of origin for the already developed countries.
Human trafficking in Nepal is a serious problem. Nepalese victims are being trafficked to India, Middle East and Malaysia, among others. There they will be forced into becoming prostitutes, domestic servants, beggars, factory workers, miners, circus performers and child soldiers.
The sex trade is very extensive in the country, where girls are usually taken from the countryside into the cities to work in bars, restaurants and massage shops and other places in the tourism sector.
The trade with girls from Nepal to India for forced prostitution makes up one of the busiest slave trade routes in the world. 5000 to 10,000 women and girls are trafficked to India every year.
Girls from Nepal are very desirable as prostitutes, as they are considered more attractive because they have a lighter skin tone. Sex with Nepali virgins are also believed to cure AIDS.
It is easy to smuggle people across the border, with 1850 kilometers of open landscape between Nepal and India. Furthermore, there are no immigration controls between the countries.
India is not only a destination country but also a transit country for Nepalese and Bangladeshi women being trafficked to Pakistan, West Asia and the Middle East, as well as for women being trafficked from Russia to Thailand.
In addition to the sex trade to India, many people are smuggled into Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Russia, Africa, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and other Gulf state . China is also emerging as a hub for Nepalese victims as the Chinese economy develops.
The majority of trafficking victims are women and girls affected by poverty, poor education, illiteracy and low cultural status.
The victims come from all parts of Nepal, but the most vulnerable are from the lower caste or the untouchables, and ethnic minorities.
Indebted families are lured with false job opportunities or suggestions to sell their daughters,
sometimes under the guise of a dowry for marriage.
The victims are threatened physically and mentally and get little or no payment for their work. They are often held in debt bondage by their captors.
Sometimes, people manage to escape or be rescued from captivity by police raids, but the road back to a normal life is difficult because most victims suffer from depression, anxiety, drug addiction and sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS.
Most do not have citizenship and therefore have limited access to justice and financial help from the state. Aid from the government is lacking in 99.9 % of the cases. Many find it difficult to return to the community with a history as a sex worker, even if they were forced into the sex trade to begin with.
They are often rejected by their families and communities, and lack of education and job skills limit their opportunities for employment and a socially accepted livelihood. Consequently, many are forced to return to the sex industry.
Traffickers of both sexes often come from the same place as their victims – they could be neighbors, relatives, friends or even parents. Human trafficking is performed through a network of smugglers, reaching from the villages, to the workplaces and on to final destination countries.
The traders co-operates with politicians, government officials, police and customs officers, foreign recruiters, agents, courier companies and adoption agencies. Hence, everything is becoming more and more organized. Perpetrators arrange legal documents for the victims, but withhold them after they have crossed the border.
Factors contributing to human trafficking are poverty and lack of jobs in rural areas, as well as an increase in demand of cheap labor in the carpet and textile industries.
Historical and cultural factors contribute to the current trafficking situation. The Hindu caste system has a code for prostitutes. In southwestern Nepal, the Badi caste were traditionally entertainers, which offered shows and sexual services to local kings, religious leaders and landlords.
Girls are considered to be a financial burden because they must eventually be married off to serve another family and her parents must pay a dowry.