Country information: Nepal
AT A GLANCE
147.181 square kilometres
28,56 million (July 2009)
Kathmandu (900.000 inhabitants 2008)
Nepali (other languages: Maithali 12.1%, Bhojpuri 7.4%, Tharu (Dagaura/Rana) 5.8%, Tamang 5.1%, Newar 3.6%, Magar 3.3% and Awadhi 2.4%)
Gross national product per capita
US$ 1.100 (2008)
1,28 per cent (2009)
65,5 years (2009)
47,5 per 1 000 live births (2009)
Rate of illiteracy
51 % (2007)
Tourism plays an increasingly important role for Nepal and has become the country’s most important source of income. According to UNWTO in 2005, approximately 285 000 guests visited the country and brought 106 million Euro into the country. Most of them are individual and package tourists, interested in the awe-inspiring mountains of the Himalayas and in the many Hindu and Buddhist cultural artefacts.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism
Cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children in connection with tourism in Nepal itself are rare. Owners of brothels in neighbouring countries and traders in humans are exploiting the plight of the Nepalese people for their own ends. They come to Nepal and lure children and young women with promises of training, a good marriage or a well-paid job into going with them to India, Pakistan or Hong Kong. Cases in which poor families believe the promises and sell their children out of ignorance and despair are becoming increasingly common.
The abduction of Nepalese girls to work in brothels in India is one of the worst known cases of organised human trade. It has become highly profitable, and is made easier by the open borders to India and the complicity of the police.
Every year, more than 10 000 girls aged between nine and sixteen are abducted from Nepal and Bangladesh to the brothels of India. Experts estimate that between 200 000 and 250 000 Nepalese women and children are kept as prostitutes in India.
There is a widespread belief in many Asian countries that sexual intercourse with children can rejuvenate and revitalise, and the children abducted in Nepal are getting younger and younger. It is also widely believed that children become infected with HIV less easily. Of course, this is not the case. For the children the consequences can be fatal. Their immune systems are often already weakened by poverty, and risk of infection is particularly high if they are forced into sexual intercourse with adults since in addition to mental harm they frequently also suffer severe physical damage.
Nepal ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on September 14, 1990, and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation, including the abduction of children to prostitution in other countries.
HIV / Aids
According to estimates by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, some 70.000 people in Nepal were infected with HIV in 2007, including 17.000 women. How many children were infected, could not be estimated. In the same year, 4.900 Nepalese died following infection with HIV.
Bhutan Women and Children Organisation
GPO Box #3485
Phone: +977 1 529 106
Fax: +977 1 542 284
Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre
P.O. Box 4374,
Phone: 00 977 1 278064/282255
Fax: 00 977 1 278016
Terre des Hommes - Nepal
P.O. Box 2430
Phone: +977 1 5555348
Fax: +977 1 5532558
CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE
State and society
The Kingdom of Nepal has been independent since it was founded in 1768. Since 1990 it has been a constitutional monarchy. Executive powers lie with a Cabinet, and the parliament has an upper and lower house.
Nepal is characterised by a considerable cultural variety and has a rich cultural heritage. Almost three-quarters of the population of Nepal belong to Indo-Nepalese and Indian ethnic groups, about a quarter to old Nepalese groups. There is also a Tibetan minority. The various ethnic groups such as the Newar, Tamang, Tibetans and Sherpas differ considerably in terms of lifestyle, clothing and rituals. 90 per cent of the population are Hindus.
Many of the people are living in poverty and child mortality is extremely high. Only three per cent of young people attend school beyond primary levels, literacy rates are low - only about every tenth Nepalese woman can read and write. Due to their poor education, people often lack the ways and means to overcome their poverty.
The Nepalese economy is based on agriculture and animal husbandry, which supports 93 per cent of the population. The mountainous interior of the country lacks the necessary infrastructure for industrial production. Only 60 per cent of the land is inhabitable, and only 17 per cent can be used for farming. The most important source of revenue is tourism, and the export of Tibetan carpets also plays a significant role. The natural resources found in the country have not yet been exploited. With a gross national product per capita of only US$ 246, Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries.