Urmila Chaudhary is a Nepalese women’s rights activist and a former domestic slave under the kamalari system, a form of debt bondage. At the age of six, she was forced to leave her family and was sold into domestic servitude. For 11 years she was exploited, abused, and forced to work without any compensation in the house of a wealthy, well-known family in Kathmandu. Upon gaining her freedom at 17, Chaudhary decided to fight for the many girls still enslaved under the kamalari system. Click here to read the liveblog from Chaudhary's 2012 talk.

About

Chaudhary was born in Manpur in the Terai Plains of southwestern Nepal. Her parents were Kamaiya, bonded laborers, as are many landless farmers from the ethnic group of the Tharu. Chaudhary and all of the women in her family—her mother, grandmother, aunt, and sisters—worked as slaves under the kamalari system.

After she was freed in 2007 with the help of international and local NGOs, Chaudhary was finally able to start school. She is currently attending high school in Lamahi/Dang in Nepal. As soon as she gained freedom, Chaudhary decided she had to fight for the many girls who still live in slavery under kamalari.

In December 2007, she was elected the first president of the Common Forum for Kamalari Freedom (CFKF), an organization founded by women and girls to fight for their rights. Chaudhary and a delegation of girls traveled several times to see the president, the prime minister, and other important government leaders in Nepal to seek financial support for the education of former slaves. Chaudhary organizes performances in villages to raise awareness among girls and their parents. She is a role model for the many freed girls, ranging from the ages of eight to twenty, who were unable to return to their families after being rescued from servitude.