The Indentured Daughters Program | Freeing Nepali Girls
How We Did It
Almost as important as the rescue of the children is our vigorous awareness campaign to turn the community against this pernicious practice. Local community leaders have made the project their own. We always start programs gradually to gauge the community’s response and ensure that the local people we are working with are reliable and motivated.
Our greatest allies in this effort are the returned girls themselves. They have organized themselves into clubs that actively discourage parents from selling their daughters. If they hear that a father is considering bonding his daughter away, they appear at his doorstep in their school uniforms to convince him not to do so.
They have written street plays that describe their suffering while they were bonded laborers, and perform them in the villages, especially during the Maghe festival. We sponsor a 15 minute radio program which is broadcast in the area every week in which the returned girls talk about their experiences working far from home. And we have filed lawsuits against employers who refuse to release their servant girls from bonded labor. This is not so much to punish them as to demonstrate to the locals in this society not so far from feudal practices that bonding children is illegal and that even important people in the community can get in trouble if they continue to do so.
Our success in turning the community against the practice has been demonstrated. No labor contractor would dare to show his face in the area where we have been working. Last year, a journalist tested the effectiveness of our efforts by waving bundles of rupee notes under the noses of some of the fathers in the villages, offering to buy their daughters. The fathers’ reply? The Nepali equivalent of “Get outta here, don’t you know this is against the law?” Read on to learn about some unexpected consequences of our success…