Basanti Chaudhary was born into a family of Kamaiyas, Nepalese bonded-labourers, and learnt from a young age that despite bonded labour being banned in Nepal since 2006, its problems are deeply entrenched.
Basanti’s education was disrupted after she was handed over to a landlord by her parents when she was 5 years old; being exposed to this from such a young age shaped her outlook on the issue of bonded labour in her country.
Basanti then studied human rights on the Empowerment Education Programme for Kamaiyas, which motivated her to champion the rights of Kamaiyas. Following this, she became the Chair of the Kamaiya Pratha Unmulan Samaj (KAPUS), an organisation made up of former Kamaiyas, for Kamaiyas. Under Basanti’s leadership, KAPUS has assisted over 200 violence-affected women to improve their economic and social circumstances, raising awareness of their rights, and providing them with the tools for empowerment. The organisation is made up of 3,400 members, working for 2,900 households of freed Kamaiyas.
Basanti is still the Chair of KAPUS today, and believes that there is yet more to be done to ensure that women are closely involved in Nepal’s development and sustained peace, bringing these issues to the public domain.