We caught up with Ms. Pradhan Malla, a lawyer and advocate at Nepal’s Supreme Court, this month after she received a Lotus Leadership Award from the Asia Foundation in New York for her work against human trafficking.
Here is an edited version of the telephone interview:
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: Back in 2000, we found 118 legal provisions in Nepalese law that were discriminatory against women. While we’ve made significant progress, we are still working to tackle the two discriminatory laws left in Nepal: polygamy and citizenship. Compared to other Asian countries, Nepal has strong laws against human trafficking. But now the challenge is how to implement the human trafficking law.
Q: What are key challenges?
A: There are some serious problems with policy in Nepal. For example, in order to protect women from being trafficked, the government has a restrictive policy for foreign employment. Because of this, women who want to seek foreign employment are forced to use fake passports to illegally move to another country.
Another issue is how to measure justice for survivors. I recently worked on one case involving the trafficking of six girls from Nepal. The trafficker was sentenced to 117 years’ imprisonment. When we asked the victims if they were satisfied with the length of the sentence, they said, “Yes, but what about us? The accused doesn’t have any property and the government doesn’t have any mechanism to compensate us.” Justice is collectively demanded and individually experienced. Even if we have laws, how do we ensure that survivors feel like justice is being achieved?
Most importantly, the root cause needs to be addressed — the poverty, illiteracy, corruption. In many human trafficking cases, people are lured by economic benefits.
Source: New York Times