Social Issues

Protests against Nepal’s new travel rules for women going abroad

Kathmandu, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- Dozens of protesters held a sit-in outside the immigration office in Kathmandu on Thursday against a new proposed rule that requires women less than 40 to produce a family consent and official permission for traveling abroad.

The department had recently forwarded the proposed amendment to the home ministry, seeking changes in the existing visit visa provisions.

The department justified the move to curb the growing incidents of human trafficking, exploitation, and its inability to rescue women if they land in any problem.

Under the proposed amendment, women under the age of 40 traveling abroad alone have to get an approval letter from their local ward office and a consent letter from their families.

They will also be required to carry insurance of a minimum of 1.5 million Nepali rupees ($12,800) and carry currency equivalent to $1,000 as travel expenses.

The proposed new rule has sparked outrage as its critics say it curbs the free movement of women traveling overseas.

On Thursday morning, a group of women with placards picketed the Immigration Department and chanted slogans against the controversial move.

Nepalese on social media were quick to slam the move, calling it a regressive rule.

Mohna Ansari, a former National Human Rights Commissioner, said the rule had been suggested by those walking backward.

“Send males (or husbands) to get permission from their wives and guardians,” Ansari wrote on Twitter. “Immigrations officers… only women are sold, when will we hear about males being sold.”

Writer Manjushree Thapa wrote on Tweeter that Nepal had brought in this law earlier in the late 1990s.

“I think—it was swiftly challenged, and didn’t last. But its revival shows that the governing class has never stopped fantasizing about exerting total control over women,” Thapa said.

The department, in a press statement on Thursday, clarified that it had recommended the provision only for some Gulf and African countries where Nepalese women were being exploited.

“We are not trying to restrict the movement of women in European countries, the US, Australia, Canada and other countries because these countries care the most about human rights,” Tek Narayan Paudel, the immigration spokesperson, told EFE.

The department clarified that no decision had been taken about approving the proposal.

“The decision will be taken in such a way that the fundamental rights of the citizens will not be curtailed,” said Paudel.

According to Paudel, Nepalese women continue to migrate abroad through illegal routes and land in trouble after being trafficked into the forced labor.

“The proposed rule aims to end such practices because Nepalese women are taken to the countries for which labor approvals are banned for safety reasons.” EFE-EPA


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