Celebrating 10 years of the end of Kamlari!
On June 27, 2013, Nepal’s legislature officially abolished the kamlari practice: a system in which members of the Tharu ethnic minority in Western Nepal sold their daughters (some as young as five years old) into indentured servitude in the homes of Nepal’s elite. The practice, built on a foundation of predatory lending, ethnic oppression, and generational debt, robbed tens of thousands of young women of educational opportunities, cultural connection, and their childhood.
NYF successfully eradicated the practice in Nepal. We empowered young Tharu women to advocate for themselves, improve the lives of their families, and support a better future for their communities.
We concluded the program in 2020, but our partnership with the Freed Kamlari Development Forum (a local nonprofit, led by former kamlaris, that NYF helped to build) continues to this day.
It’s been 10 years since the legal abolishment of Kamlari indentured servitude, so we wanted to observe the anniversary of this incredible accomplishment by taking a quick look back…
Check out recent stories highlighting freed Kamlari women:
- September 18, 2019: Freed Kamlari Development Forum (FKDF) inaugurates new headquarters!
- September 11, 2020: Tharu Leaders Transforming their Communities in Nepal
- September 15, 2020: Former Kamlari women supports communities during COVID-19
- January 14, 2021: Highlights from an external study on the impact of our 20-year efforts to empower young women impacted by the kamlari practice.
- March 5, 2021: Bishnu Chaudhary passes bar exam, becoming first Freed Kamlari lawyer
- June 24, 2021: Lila Tharu, former Kamlari, is a frontline warrior, saving lives during COVID-19
- January 19, 2023: Former Kamlaris Propose Industrial Tailoring Course
Only 23 years ago, our team was just arriving in the Western Terai to learn about the kamlari system and its place in Tharu society. The practice was so entrenched, and so accepted, within these communities that it was difficult to imagine the work it would take to eradicate the system entirely. We started by freeing a handful of girls, and charged forward from there.
Thirteen years later, in June 2013, Nepal’s government formally abolished the practice, and added annual funding to the country’s budget that would provide scholarships and support to the women and girls whose childhoods had been impacted. NYF’s tireless, creative work within the Tharu communities had rapidly taken the kamlari system from an accepted, expected, open-air practice to one seen as exploitative and unacceptable by everyone in the villages.
Now, 10 years after the kamlari practice was abolished, NYF is tackling another massive, entrenched social issue: Nepal’s caste system. Using our success in the Western Terai as a guide, our Caste Equality Project will work within Dalit (formerly known as “untouchable”) communities to empower children and families to dismantle the oppressive systems around them.
We hope you will join us.