Nepalis on Thursday protested against proposed new travel rules that could force young women to require permission from their family for travelling in some circumstances, calling them an attack on fundamental rights.
The government says the regulation is to prevent human trafficking, but demonstrators gathered outside Nepal’s immigration department argued the government should be looking at other measures, not hampering women’s mobility.
“I am here as a Nepali woman. It is shameful that in this century we have to stand here and demand rights,” a 19-year-old student at the protest, Abhishu Karki, told AFP.
The director of the department, Tek Narayan Poudel, sought to calm the crowd, telling them: “There has not been a decision yet… When we now discuss it in the Home Ministry, we will make efforts to not endorse it because it is against human rights.”
The new rule could make it mandatory for women under 40 years of age to present a letter of recommendation from a family member or their local administrative unit when travelling alone to a “risky country” for the first time on a visit visa.
Since 2017, Nepal already restricts approval for its citizens to go to certain Gulf countries as domestic workers — it says because of issues of forced labour and exploitation.
But Manju Gurung, an activist who works for women migrant workers, said that ban has resulted in an unknown number of women taking illegal routes, or using visit visas to get around it.
“This is not a solution but another mistake that will only discriminate against women,” she said of the new proposal. The protests on Thursday came a day after local media reported the details of the suggested law, sparking outrage on social media.
“Our demand is that we should be able to live freely, do our work freely. Recommendations and proposals like this should be immediately withdrawn,” said Sabba Rani Maharjan, one of the demonstrators.
Others chanted and symbolically offered up their passports to immigration officials.One home-made placard read “Dear Future Daughter, This One is For you”.
Courtesy – AFP