The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is a well-known problem in Kathmandu. Having seen a decade-long proliferation in the number of venues making up the adult entertainment sector (AES), frontline organisations – including the Freedom Fund and its local partners – made this the focus of their battle to eradicate the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Through a combination of prevention and protection interventions, alongside advocating to government for better regulation of the adult entertainment sector, significant progress has been made. The Freedom Fund wound down its CSEC program in 2020, on the basis that the numbers of minors being exploited in the Kathmandu AES had decreased and local groups had the capacity and experience to continue working effectively in this space.
However, there has been anecdotal evidence that some of the observed CSEC reductions in the AES may be accompanied by shifting forms of abuse online and to other locations. Therefore, The Freedom Fund commissioned a team of local experts, led by Dr Govind Subedi1, Professor of Population Studies at Tribhuvan University of Nepal, to assess what the emerging forms of CSEC are and the locations where they take place. The findings of that study are summarised in this report, “Commercial sexual exploitation of children in Nepal: shifting forms of abuse“, which is intended to serve as a resource for government and civil society actors working in the space, and to help them adjust their approaches and programs to a broadened and diversified landscape of abuse in the Kathmandu Valley.
While not exhaustive, the findings of our review clearly suggest that the forms and locations where CSEC takes places is evolving and further research and policy responses are needed to determine the extent of those changes. To help curb this worrying trend, we propose a range of measures to be pursued by relevant authorities, NGOs and researchers.