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Information Centre | Nepal
The Kamaiya System in Nepal ( July 1998 )
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Labour relations in South Asian agriculture subsume an entire range of contractual
arrangements. These vary not only in forth but also in the degree of inherent bondage and freedom. The Kamaiya system in Nepal is a permanent farm labour arrangement. Some of these labourers, or Kamaiyas as they are known locally, are reported to be tied in relations of bondage and unfree attachment. Family members of bonded labourers are often obliged to provide forced and underpaid or even unpaid labour services, for excessively long hours, under compulsion of the Kamaiya contract. Such bondage can tie Kaniaiyas and their families over generations.
The underlying socio-economic cause of bondage is landlessness and a poor resource and skill base, which, in combination with the lack of alternative employment opportunities, leads to extreme poverty. The access to means of subsistence and, therefore, the ability to sketch out meaningful and effective survival strategies is extremely limited for the rural poor. The resource poor labourer can only offer family labour as collateral for credit, and, therefore, enters into a credit and labour contract with the same person - a moneylender and employer rolled into one. This, in turn, leads to bondage through debt and usury. The vicious cycle of poverty and debt bondage becomes very difficult to break.
The extraction of unpaid and forced labour, a reminder of the repugnant practice of slavery, violates the tenets of ILO Conventions and principles. However, this form of slavery continues to prevail in varying degrees in several South Asian countries, including those that have ratified the ILO's Forced Labour Convention (No. 29), 1930. This Convention calls for the suppression of forced labour in all its forms. Though Nepal has not ratified this Convention, nonetheless, Article 20 of the Constitution of Nepal provides that traffic in human beings, slavery, serfdom or forced labour in any form is prohibited. Contravention of this provision is punishable by law, and both the Civil Code and the Contract Act contain additional guarantees against forced labour.
The present study was, therefore, commissioned to analyse the factors which have contributed to the perpetuation of the bonded labour system in Nepal. The author examines present and past policies and programmes and their impact on the bonded labour system, identifies their strengths and weaknesses and suggests changes that are required in such policies and programmes to deal more effectively with the problems of bonded labour in Nepal.
Publisher:
ILO ,   (1998 )
Type / Script:
Publication in English
Keywords:
DEBT BONDAGE, BONDED LABOUR, HUMAN RIGHTS, LABOUR, LABOUR RELATIONS, LABOUR POLICY, LABOUR LAW, LABOUR EXPLOITATION, FORCED LABOUR, LIVELIHOOD, FARM WAGE, FARM, LABOUR PARTICIPATION, CASTE, ETHNIC GROUPS, LITERACY, WOMEN, CHILDREN, CIVIL SERVANTS, SOCIAL PROCESS, ECONOMIC PROCESS, HISTORICAL PROCESSS, REGIONAL CONCENTRATION, CHILD DEPENDENCY
Thematic Group:
 ILO : International Labor & Labor
Thesaurus:
14.02.02  -  Human Rights
Reference Link:
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