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Stories of harassment, violence and discrimination: migrant experiences between India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Fiona Samuels

Briefing/policy paper

There has been a steady flow of people from Nepal and Bangladesh to India in recent decades in search of better work and livelihood opportunities. As they move to and fro, many face harassment, discrimination and violence. Many face these challenges during their journeys – particularly when they cross borders – at their destinations, and when they go home. Their experiences are affected by gender, country of origin and the process of recruitment to migration.

This Project Briefing explores the experiences of these people as they migrate, drawing on findings from a baseline study on their vulnerabilities, particularly to HIV and AIDS, as they move between their communities of origin in Nepal and Bangladesh to India.

Although the baseline used quantitative and qualitative approaches, stories of harassment and violence emerge mostly from the qualitative elements. Respondents rarely speak about their own experiences of violence or discrimination, but talk about the experiences and behaviour of others. The term ‘violence’ is used in its broadest sense, ranging from harassment, bribery, threats and name-calling, to discrimination, stigma, exclusion and exploitation, to physical violence including beating, torture and murder, to sexual and gender based violence including sexual exploitation, coercion and rape. After exploring experiences of violence, this briefing concludes with recommendations, many of them already being operationalised in the three countries as a result of findings from this study.

Research findings suggest:

  • Most migrants experience violence, exclusion and harassment at transit, destination and, to lesser degrees, at home
  • Their gender and origin influence the degree of harassment and violence, with female Bangladeshi migrants facing disproportionate risks
  • It is vital to sensitise health staff, police, employers and landlords at destination on migrants’ rights
Fiona Samuels, Sanju Wagle, Tahmina Sultana, Mirza Manbira Sultana, Navneet Kaur and Shantamay Chatterjee