Nepalese Sex Workers Undertake a Semi-Naked Protest Outside Kathmandu’s Government House

In August 2007, female Nepalese sex workers, including many from the highly marginalised Badi ethnic minority group, undertook a mass demonstration that included public nudity in front of Government House in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu.

Sex worker activists were demanding that the Government address the issues affecting the sex worker community, including:

  • the recognition of sex work as a legitimate income source;
  • citizenship rights for inter-generational sex workers, including the children of sex workers;
  • options for alternative sources of income;
  • programs to support the reintegration of sex workers into society;
  • and the specific reservation of seats in the national Constituent assembly for marginalised women, including sex workers and women from the Badi community.

Due to the cultural taboos surrounding public female nudity in Nepal, in addition to the criminalisation of sex work, the protest attracted local, regional and international media attention. Thirteen male and female activists were detained and  assaulted by police, who attempted to counter the protest action using violent tactics. Sex workers from the Badi community also undertook protest actions at Pashupathinath temple.

Since 2004, sex worker activists had been stating their intention to undertake a nude protest if the Government failed to implement legislative changes which granted them equal citizenship rights.