See More on Facebook

Culture and society

Human traffickers are now waiting to cross India – Nepal border

Despite decades of surveillance and awareness programmes, hundreds of women continue to be trafficked across the open Nepal-India border every year.


Written by

Updated: August 7, 2019

On Saturday, two Nepali girls, both 17, were on their way to Bahraich in India’s Uttar Pradesh, when they were stopped at the border town of Jamunaha for a routine police check. The girls said they were going to observe the annual Bahraich Mela, but upon further questioning, they said that they were going to meet some men across the border. These men, the police discovered, were human traffickers, who had lured these girls with promises of a job.

Thousands of Nepalis cross the open border into India every day. Many work across the border while others go to shop for daily necessities and higher-end products that might not be available on the Nepal side. But the Nepal-India border is also notorious for the trafficking of young women.

“All too frequently, these innocent Nepali girls fall into traps of human traffickers,” said Keshav Koirala, Nepalgunj coordinator of Maiti Nepal, the anti-trafficking organisation. “Many say they are going for shopping but the truth turns out to be otherwise.”

Maiti Nepal, along with a number of other anti-trafficking organisations, routinely stops and questions young women crossing the border with the help of police. But these organisations face a dilemma.

“If we prevent them from crossing the border, it would be a violation of their human rights,” said Koirala. “But if we let them go, there is the risk of them being trafficked.”

Ever since the Nepal Police stepped up anti-trafficking efforts on this side of the border, human traffickers have adopted a different tactic. Now, they lure women into India with promises of lucrative jobs and higher education, said Koirala. The traffickers meet the women across the border and then spirit them away to the cities, where they are sold into sexual slavery. Many women cross the border and never return, say police.

Koirala told the Post of one such teenager who attempted to cross the border recently by herself.

“At first, she said she was going to shop for vegetables but after extended interrogation, she revealed that she was running away from her family to meet some men across the border,” said Koirala. “We made her return home.”

Traffickers take advantage of the fact that most Nepalis depend on Indian border towns for many of their daily essentials, everything from sundries to groceries.

According to data from Maiti Nepal, a total of 920 women were found to have travelled “suspiciously” to India in 2018. Of them, 27 were from the Nepalgunj Sub-metropolitan City and over a hundred from the neighbouring municipalities of Baijanath, Khajura, Kohalpur and Duduwa.

A lucrative market for seasonal labour migration has now opened in Shimla, picking apples, said Maiti Nepal’s Koirala, but on their way there, many Nepali women fall victim to traffickers.

“Maiti Nepal, in coordination with the police, has been trying really hard to prevent such incidents by making the enquiry processes more rigorous,” Koirala said. “But despite our measures, it’s hard to prevent the girls in the bordering areas from being trafficked.”

In tested fashion, traffickers exploit the ambition of young girls, promising them money and a better education, according to Nirmala Thapa, an officer with Shakti Nepal, another anti-trafficking organisation. Because they are young and naive, most are easily sold on these promises. In many cases, the traffickers are the victim’s relatives and their lovers.

“The traffickers weave stories targeting the young girls’ fragile minds. This week, we found out that a 20-year-old was promised a marketing job in Dang but was taken to Nepalgunj,” said Thapa. The implication here is that she was going to be trafficked across the border.

Just last week, Shakti Nepal rescued five Nepali teenage girls from a brothel in India. Two were from families affected by the 2015 earthquake in Nuwakot and Sindhupalchok, said Thapa.

Despite decades of working along the border region and conducting countless awareness campaigns, results have not been all that positive, said Thapa.

“It’s very hard to detain traffickers,” she said. “Even if we locate the perpetrators, it’s hard to bring them to book because of their political clout. Often, the police do not want to register such cases.”

The city of Nepalgunj, in coordination with Sathi, will soon be putting up information centres at the border crossing where women will need to provide detailed answers to where they are coming from, where they are travelling to, and for what purpose, according to Uma Thapa, Nepalgunj deputy mayor.

“The only option seems to be to regulate the border,” Thapa said. “Along with more rigorous awareness programmes, we need to make crossing the open border stricter.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Kathmandu Post
About the Author: The Kathmandu Post was Nepal’s first privately owned English broadsheet daily and is currently the country's leading English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society

Rationalising climate change

The first step to addressing the alarming problem of climate change is creating awareness, which authors and scientists are tirelessly attempting to inculcate in people. Franz Kafka (1883- 1924), a Bohemian novelist who is considered a major literary figure of the 20th century, wrote, “There is infinite hope… but not for us.” His words tell us of the characters in his narratives who embark on various ventures, but seldom succeed. Today, writers highlight these words of Kafka to refer not to Kafka’s characters, but to humanity’s future with reference to climate change. Some of these writers, in present times, similarly project that the hope for a greener planet is “not for us.” We are informed of mankind’s anguish concerning the problem of climate change. The truth of the matter is that a lot has already occurred, with side effects of climate change being felt the world over. Even a fraction of


By The Statesman
October 17, 2019

Culture and society

No to terrorism, communalism

Still smarting from brutal murder of Abrar, Buet students vow to resist repeat of such incidents.  With the murder of Abrar Fahad fresh in everyone’s minds, protesting students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology yesterday took an oath to resist terrorism and communal forces on the campus. “We will collectively prevent the rise of all sorts of terrorist activities and evil communal forces on the campus. Imbued with morality, we will uproot all the discriminatory cultures and abuses of power,” the students said in unison. “Together we will make sure that no innocent life falls apart and the innocent do not fall victim to torture on this university ground.” Several hundred students took the oath in presence of Buet vice-chancellor Prof Saiful Islam, deans of different faculties and provosts of the halls. The programme was


By Daily Star
October 17, 2019

Culture and society

Bengali Nobel laureate Abhijit at a glance

Abhijit Banerjee shared the Nobel Prize for economics. Indian-born Abhijit Banerjee of the US, French-American Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer of the US today won the 2019 Nobel Economics Prize for their work in fighting global poverty. Here is the brief profile of Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee: Fifty-eight-year-old Abhijit was born in Kolkata of India in 1961. His mother Nirmala Banerjee was a professor of economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata. Abhijit’s father Dipak Banerjee was a professor and the head of the Department of Economics at Presidency College in Kolkata. He went to South Point School and completed his BS degree in economics from Presidency College in Kolkata in 1981.


By Daily Star
October 15, 2019

Culture and society

Bringing South Asians together, through translations

The DSC Prize longlist reflects the coming-of-age of South Asian literature. Late last week, at a cocktail event following the longlist announcement of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature-2019 in New Delhi, HS Narula, chairman of the infrastructure giant DSC Limited that funds the prize, came up to Niraj Bhari, publisher of FinePrint Books, and asked why Nepali publishers had repeatedly failed to submit their books for the award.In the eight-year history of the DSC Prize, which was established to celebrate the written word from and around South Asia, only one book—Samrat Upadhyay’s Buddha’s Orphans (2012)—has been longlisted. Bhari seemed flabbergasted by the question. That evening, Bhari said something to the effect that some good translations were coming up this year, and that there would definitely be an entry for the next year’s prize. But, conversely, the question could


By The Kathmandu Post
October 1, 2019

Culture and society

‘Religion has nothing to do with terrorism,’ says PM Imran at UN conference on hate speech

The PM says it is due to the marginalisation of communities. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday emphasised that religion has no link to terrorism and that it is “marginalisation of communities [that] leads to radicalisation”. Pakistan and Turkey co-hosted a round table discussion on hate speech, a side event in the margins of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The prime minister along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addressed the conference, which also featured a Key Note address by High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) Miguel Ángel Moratinos.


By Dawn
September 26, 2019

Culture and society

Police is failing rape victims, new human rights commission report says

Nepal’s criminal justice system continues to make access to justice complicated and challenging for victims of rape, according to the report. Despite an increase in the number of reported rape cases in Nepal, rape victims are repeatedly let down by the police, a damning new human rights report says. Human rights activists have frequently said that young Nepali girls and women who report rape, now estimated to be over a thousand each year, face an insensitive police force that comprises mostly male officers who are woefully undertrained when it comes to dealing with survivors of sexual violence, a majority of whom are minors. And now, a study on rape victims’ access to justice and police accountability in ensuring the same, released on Monday by the Nation


By The Kathmandu Post
September 24, 2019