Week of 12.19.08
Tales of Courage: Girls who Escaped Slavery in NepalThousands of young girls in western Nepal have been sold by their parents to work as servants. Subsisting as farm laborers, many families have taken this dramatic step in a desperate attempt to put food on their tables. The girls are often sent far away from their homes and lured to the cities with a promise of education. The girls rarely go to school and many are abused by the families they work for. The Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation (NYOF) is helping these girls through an innovative program wherein girls win their freedom in exchange for goats and pigs.
Below, two brave girls who were able to break free from their lives as modern day slaves in Nepal share their stories
At the age of eight, Rajkumari Chaudhary was sold by her parents to work as a live-in servant. Her family received 1500 rupees ($23) for her. For five years she was shuttled from family to family to cook, clean and look after young children. During those years she was often physically abused and on one occasion she says that her male employer made advances toward her.
"The male employer came and touched me. I was scared," she told NOW.
Rajkumari found an NYOF office in a neighboring town, walked there and signed herself up for the program. Her family received a goat and she enrolled in school. Now 18, she is part of NYOF's outreach program to help girls in similar circumstances.
"If someone is working as a servant I say, 'If you can't speak up about it, tell me and I can talk to your father.'" Rajkumari also acts in street plays depicting the struggle of Nepalese girls who work as indentured servants. Her favorite role is that of the antagonist that bullies the servant. She says that her acting helps raise awareness by showing the Nepalese how badly their daughters are being treated when they are sold off.
When Sabita was six years old, her parents sold her for about $30 to work for a family in Kathmandu for one year. Sabita says she was frequently beaten. When she could not calm the baby she was caring for, her owners threatened her.
"They would say, 'I'll take you to the police and have you arrested,'" she said.
Her parents both believe the practice of indentured servitude should end.
"Even if we go hungry or have nothing to clothe us, we will not give our daughters," her mother said. "We have to stop this tradition, with our blood and sweat."
Sabita now lives at home with her parents.
The Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation
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NYOF: Indentured Daughters Program
BBC: Nepal Country Profile
|Daughters for Sale
Tales of Courage
Slideshow: Freeing the Daughters of Nepal
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