The recent data from Nepal Police exposes vulnerability of our women and children. It shows that around 83 percent of people who went missing in the last five years were women and children. A total of 32,364 missing complaints were filed across the nation in the last five years, out of which 26,756 complaints accounted for missing children and women. Shockingly, 21,564 women and children missing during the review period are still unaccounted for. Nepal Police attributes large number of disappeared to the tendency of family members to file missing cases in haste without verifying and not reporting when they are found. Police claim lack of communication with their family members for the high number. According to the police, missing complaints registered at various police stations across the nation have steadily risen in the last five years. A total of 8,277 missing complaints were registered across Nepal in 2017/18, which is an increase of 14 percent when compared to the preceding fiscal year’s tally of 7,279. As many as 5,957 missing complaints were filed in 2015/16 while 5,683 complaints were registered in 2014/15. The key concern for Nepal Police and the government should be to find them and return them to their families. Where do these children and women go?
Few months back, a study conducted by India’s Seema Sasastra Bal (SSB) showed that the number of children trafficked to India from various places of Nepal has increased by 500 percent since 2013. The report said that most victims are brought to India from various places of Nepal, including Tarai plains and are sold to brothels in Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata and in other cities. In 2013, according to their study, 108 girls and children were rescued at Nepal-India border and 607 such victims were rescued in 2017. The SSB study calls Nepal “the source country” for most of trafficking of children and women. The report mentions that these children are sold to the brothels for up to 50,000 Indian rupees each. We should take every measure to ensure that every single child and woman is safe.
When the state fails on its duty to protect and ensure the security of its citizens, they become vulnerable to various kinds of abuses, including sexual violence, trafficking and disappearance. This is particularly so in case of women and children. We heard several cases of women and children being trafficked during the 2015 earthquakes. It is because we have not been able to protect our children and women from harm’s way Nepal has been seen as a safe haven by child traffickers. Nepal’s security agencies and various organizations working on women and children welfare need to gear up their efforts to increase vigilance on major routes of trafficking. The federal democratic republic, which constitutionally guarantees safety of women and children as their fundamental rights, should not earn the distinction of being the place where a number of its children and women disappear every year and are never found.