Nepalese Sex Workers Threaten Nude Protest in Kathmandu

In March, 2004, female sex workers from the highly marginalised Western Nepalese Badi community threatened to undertake a nude protest in the nation’s capital city, Kathmandu, in an effort to advocate for their right to attain Nepalese citizenship and for the legalisation of sex work.

According to a spokesperson for the group, the Badi community were considering undertaking this action in front of national Government headquarters because other advocacy strategies had not been successful in achieving recognition of their rights, nor the implementation of meaningful social change for sex workers.

Public female nudity is considered highly taboo in Nepalese society and sex work is highly stigmatised by broader society. In addition to demanding recognition of sex work as a legitimate profession, the aim of the proposed action involved highlighting the need for policy changes relating to citizenship rights. Under Nepalese law inter-generational sex workers cannot attain Nepalese citizenship if they are the offspring of sex workers. According to Nepalese policy, a woman cannot register the birth of her child without naming either the child’s father or the woman’s husband.

Many women, including sex workers, recognise the inherent discrimination in this policy and have been advocating for Constitutional changes which grant unmarried women the same rights as men in the registration of their child’s birth. Sex worker activists said that they did not want their children to face the same issues they had in being denied basic rights to citizenship.