Nepal Moves to Abolish Kamalari Slave System
Nepal’s government has taken a huge step towards protecting the nation’s girls by formally announcing the abolition of the harmful kamalari practice.
Plan has welcomed the news and urged the government to follow through and take legal action against those who hire girls as kamalaris, or child servants, to work in households in return for money or education. “This is a significant step in the right direction and it could not come at a better time as the world’s attention is currently locked on the rights of girls in the wake of Malala Day last week,” says Donal Keane, Plan's country director in Nepal.
Although the kamalari practice is prohibited under Nepal’s legal framework, the law has until now been largely ineffective when it comes to protecting girls who become child servants.
“What we are seeing now is a direct result of the tireless campaigning of young women like Urmila Chaudhary, a former kamalari herself, who have taken a stand against a practice that exploits thousands of Nepal’s girls and often denies them their right to an education,” adds Mr. Keane.
Urmila, Plan's Because I am a Girl ambassador who was recently given a 'Youth Courage Award for Education' by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, made headlines in June when she was knocked unconscious during a scuffle at an anti-kamalari demonstration in Kathmandu.
The resulting stand-off between the government and protesters was appeased after a series of meetings between the 2 sides and a 10-point plan was agreed, which includes freeing all remaining kamalari, issuing ID cards, and offering scholarships.
“We never imagined that we would hear such a great declaration from the highest level of the Nepali government. This is one of the biggest achievements out of the 10-point agreement made between the girls and the government,” says Urmila, 22.
“This is the outcome of about a decade’s worth of efforts that have made us all very happy. All of us girls would like to thank the government for its decision to abolish the practice and allocate resources for kamalari girls.”
Urmila has been a central figure to Plan’s Kamalari Abolition Project, which has helped to rescue thousands of girls from domestic slavery.
Learn more about Plan’s work in Nepal.