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In Nepal, slavery is tied to wealth and the caste system, with most Kamlaris coming from the Tharu community. After being stripped of their land, forced into bonded labour and stigmatised at the bottom of the caste system 160 years ago, the Tharu people farm land belonging to a landlord and are often convinced into trading their daughters. Tharu parents are not always aware that they are sending their daughters away to become Kamlaris, or slave girls, in the city. Often, they are told that the girls should be sent to live with a wealthier family so that they can have better access to education and a higher standard of living, in exchange for small tasks, such as babysitting. Unfortunately, some Tharu families are so desperately poor, they believe that sending their daughters away will give them a better chance in life.
The reality of Kamlari life, however, is grim. Many girls interviewed by Al Jazeera, report being repeatedly beaten, left scraps of food, being sexually abused and raped, as well as living under constant ridicule and criticism. They live in households where two worlds exist simultaneously, the lives of the rich host family and the oppressed, lonely life of the Kamlari slaves.
However, demonstrations have taken place this year against the use of Kamlaris by government officials and Nepali elites. Despite it being illegal, many are accused of still using slave girls and avoiding prosecution through strong, political connections. The protests this year were sparked after the death of Srijana, a 12-year-old Kamlari who mysteriously burnt to death in her owner’s house. Girls across Nepal came together in Kathmandu in order to protest against the use of Kamlaris and to demand an independent investigation of Srijana’s death. However, the girls were met with violent retaliation by the police.
According to a government spokesperson, he knows of no government official using Kamlaris and anyone found to be in “possession” of a slave girl should be held accountable and prosecuted accordingly, he said.
For the full story: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2013/09/20139249536331927.html