A new law has been proposed in Nepal by the Department of Immigration that would prohibit many women from traveling abroad without the permission of their families and government officials.
The law, which would require all women under 40 to obtain permission before traveling to Africa or the Middle East for the first time, is designed to prevent women from being trafficked.
Unsurprisingly, the proposal has not been well-received. Hundreds of women gathered in protest of the law on Friday in Kathmandu, as part of a march to call attention to rape and other infringements of women’s rights.
Hima Bista, executive director at Women Lead Nepal, told the protestors, “What is extremely dangerous is the thought process behind it. The very fact that a policymaker is thinking about drafting this law restricting the movement of adult girls and women tells us how deep-rooted the patriarchal mindset is.”
According to The Guardian, Nepal’s Human Right Commission estimated that 35,000 people were victims of human trafficking in 2018, including 15,000 women and 5,000 girls. Activists don’t believe that this proposed law or ban on women traveling abroad, which does not take into consideration the many male victims of human trafficking in the country, is the right way to handle the issue.
A similar ruling was recently announced in Gaza, which prohibited unmarried women from traveling without permission from their male guardians. It prompted immediate backlash from human rights activists, who claimed it breached Palestine’s anti-gender discrimination laws. The ruling is currently being redrafted.