Nepal’s citizens engage in foreign employment at the highest per capita rate of any other country in Asia, and their remittances account for 25 percent of the country’s GDP. The Middle East is now the most popular destination for Nepalis--nearly 700,000 were working in the Middle East in 2011 on temporary labor contracts. For some Nepalis, working abroad provides much-needed household wealth. For others, their contributions to Nepal come at great personal cost. Migrant workers in the Gulf, for example, routinely report wage theft, lack of time off and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. Some migrant workers report psychological and physical abuse, and other forms of labor exploitation that may rise to the level of forced labor, debt bondage or other forms of trafficking. Women engaged in domestic work are often isolated in the home, where they may also endure emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
The story of labor migration begins and ends at home. The conditions that give rise to labor trafficking are often set pre-departure in the recruitment phase itself. Between 2012 and 2014, researchers from Nepal, Australia and the United States conducted a study on migrant workers’ access to justice in Nepal, including for exploitation and trafficking. Justice was defined to comprise both compensation for losses, and the holding of perpetrators accountable, for example through fines, licensing sanctions, or even imprisonment. The study found that overall access to justice in Nepal was extremely low, especially for migrant workers who have been survivors of labor trafficking. However, clear routes exist to improvement. The full results of the study, and related recommendations, are contained in the report Migrant Workers Access to Justice at Home: Nepal. This is the second study in a series providing a comprehensive analysis of migrant workers’ access to justice at home; the first study, Migrant Workers Access to Justice at Home: Indonesia, was published October 2013.
Paoletti, Sarah; Taylor-Nicholson, Eleanor; Sijapati, Bandita; and Farbenblum, Bassina, "Migrant Workers' Access to Justice at Home: Nepal" (2014). Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law. 1326.
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