Protection and Paternalism: Narratives of Nepali Women Migrants and the Gender Politics of Discriminatory Labour Migration Policy

Authors

  • Barbara Grossman-Thompson California State University Long Beach

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40339

Keywords:

Nepal, gender discrimination, age discrimination, migration law, informal migration, illegality, paternalism, women migrants, ijaat, social honour

Abstract

This article considers the current age and gender discriminatory migration laws in Nepal in their historical and sociocultural context. Drawing on eight months of fieldwork and data collected from both migrants and migration policymakers I ask, What are the consequences of discriminatory laws on young Nepali women’s migration experiences? And why do gender and age discriminatory laws and policies persist in light of evidence that they may actually endanger migrants? I posit that historically dominant Hindu gender norms provide the basis for the paternalistic migration laws currently in place. I argue that age and gender discriminatory migration policies are rooted in patriarchal concern for women’s ijaat (social honour) and sexual purity. The result of discriminatory law is not a reduction in migration but an increase in irregular and illegal migration that exacerbates women labour migrants’ vulnerability to a variety of abuses. I conclude that examining discriminatory migration laws with an intersectional lens raises interesting possibilities for theorizing how and why these ineffectual laws persist. 

Author Biography

Barbara Grossman-Thompson, California State University Long Beach

Barbara Grossman-Thompson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Studies at California State University Long Beach.

Published

2016-11-23

How to Cite

Grossman-Thompson, B. (2016). Protection and Paternalism: Narratives of Nepali Women Migrants and the Gender Politics of Discriminatory Labour Migration Policy. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 32(3), 40–48. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40339