Protection and Paternalism: Narratives of Nepali Women Migrants and the Gender Politics of Discriminatory Labour Migration Policy
This article considers the current age and gender discriminatory migration laws in Nepal in their historical and socio-cultural context. Drawing on eight months of field- work 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.
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