Saturday Dec 3, 2022
Saturday Dec 3, 2022

Exploitation of children in Kathmandu’s entertainment industry

Minors are being subjected to the worst form of child labor in Kathmandu’s adult entertainment industry.

2022 May 31, 7:43, Kathmandu
Photo : representative image / rawpixel

Minors are being subjected to the worst form of child labor in Kathmandu’s adult entertainment industry

Although it is illegal for a child to work in the adult entertainment industry in Nepal, the very industry is serving as a ground for abuse, where minors especially girls are sexually harassed by customers and employers without the fear of facing any legal consequences.

Driven by financial necessities many young people work in the adult entertainment sector (AES) in the bustling capital of Kathmandu. Among them many are minors below the age of 18.

A major study conducted in collaboration with New Era, Nepal’s first non - government research organization, The John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York and the Freedom Fund, an organization dedicated to end modern day slavery in 2019, found that 17 percent of the people employed in the adult entertainment sector in Kathmandu were below the age of 18. Shockingly, 62 percent of the people involved in the adult entertainment sector began work when they were under the age of 18.

Photo : Representative image/ pix4free
Photo : Representative image/ pix4free

The dark side of Kathmandu’s adult entertainment industry reveals itself through this study, which continues to employ minors and is sexually exploitative towards children employed in it. Over 60 percent of minors working in the adult entertainment sector were subjected to groping, forced to watch pornography and forcibly made to engage in intimacy with the customers. According to the International Labor Organization, all children working in the adult entertainment industry are subjected to the worst forms of child labor.

The adult entertainment industry operates within informal venues in Nepal, like dohori restaurants, massage parlors and dance bars. Young girls are often used as eye candy to attract more customers by the business owners, in these places. Nepal Human Rights Commission report on trafficking 2018, reveals that 15,000 women and 5,000 girls, were victims of trafficking in a single year. These women are primarily abducted for sexual slavery in the adult entertainment industry abroad.

Sadly, the commercial exploitation of minors exists broadly in Nepal’s entertainment industry as a whole, including the film and fashion industry.

Adopting and implementing child sensitive policies while employing a child in the film and fashion industry plays a vital role in protecting child rights upheld by Nepal’s constitution. “The entertainment industry should adopt child sensitive policies which should be compulsorily implemented while working with children below 18,” says Nepali filmmaker, Sachin Ghmire.

Over the years, Ghimire has been involved in making movies, documentaries and short films on social issues existent in the Nepalese society. “The role of parents is also crucial in these circumstances, parents should be critical about fashion shows and beauty pageants before they send their children to participate or work in it,” he adds. “It is best if parents or at least some adult family member accompanies the minors to their workplaces, such as shoot locations and hotels,” he further adds.

Around the world, many countries have formulated laws that allow children to be employed in the entertainment industry but they monitor it strictly. One such example is the Government of Australia which requires a mandatory ‘Code of Practice for the Employment of Children in Entertainment’, to be implemented before and while employing any child below 18 years in the entertainment industry.

Pioneer DJM-900 Nexus DJ Mixer tweaked. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons
Pioneer DJM-900 Nexus DJ Mixer tweaked. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

The code restricts working hours for children and varies in accordance to how many hours they attend school the following day of their work. “Flexible working hours should be ordained when working with children, their work hours simply cannot be the same as adults,” says Sachin Ghimire. The policy also makes it obligatory for children to be supervised at all times by their guardian, which includes paying attention to any instances of “bullying, teasing and harassment” of the minor.

In the increasingly digital world, exploitation of children is not only limited to physical settings but online sexual harassment is becoming increasingly common online. Since one in every three internet user globally, is a child, UNICEF recommends considering a child’s perspectives and experiences while drafting policies that govern the use of digital platforms. However, the current digital platforms fail to act in the child’s best interest and are not safe enough to be used by a child without adult supervision.

Social Media giants like Tik Tok have faced legal challenges in recent years, for using children’s personal information, including phone numbers, videos, exact location and biometric data, with the deliberate lack of transparency and consent required by law. The terrifying thing is, this is all being done without the children or parents knowing about what is being done with their personal information. TikTok officials have denied this allegation.

According to CLARISSA, an international consortium working to end child labor in Bangladesh and Nepal, the COVID -19 pandemic further exaggerated the abuse of children in Nepal’s adult entertainment industry. Although the government of Nepal had restricted the operation of the adult entertainment industry to avoid the spread of the virus, activities in the sector continue underground.

A crucial step towards accomplishing the government’s plan to ‘eliminate all forms of child labor by 2025’ is to rescue the children working in the adult entertainment sector.


child exploitation child sensitive policy abuse children films fashion minors Entertainment Industry dohori child labor
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