5 Realities of Trafficking in Nepal + Hope to the Hopeless
They seem lost, like they’ve never been to an airport before. For being in the international terminal, they’re carrying surprisingly little. They are shuffling through their papers, nervously glancing from the throng of documents to the guard standing in front of them with his hand out. The guard succumbs to impatience and stamps whatever paper they’ve got in front of them and sends them on their way.
The reality is, their travel documents were forged. They’ve never traveled outside of their village, let alone to another country. They spoke with a stranger only 3 days ago who had given them so much hope. He offered them a life of luxury abroad. One where they could work and live and support their desperate families back home. The reality is, what they hope for is not on their horizon. They will not be doing the types of jobs they thought they would. They will not receive proper compensation for the horrific duties they’re to endure, let alone be able to support the loved ones they’ve left behind. The reality is, these women have been trafficked, and they didn’t see it coming.
In Nepal alone, an estimated 171,000 people are subjected to modern day slavery. Nearly 45% of the country’s population are vulnerable to being trafficked1. Every year more than 1,750 children are reported missing in the Himalayas2. The numbers can leave us feeling hopeless. But that’s exactly why we exist as an organization. We want to change the reality, to raise up a generation of hope. We want to fight for, find and rescue those who need it most. The realities of trafficking across the Himalayas informs our strategy as an organization. Read more below.
1. THE REALITY: Though many victims are caught unaware in the snares of traffickers, some families and individuals may knowingly choose to enter into a life of slavery out of desperation. Unable to feed or send yet another child to school, families will surrender children to traffickers in hope of compensation to make it through the day.
OUR STRATEGY: One of the greatest tools in our fight against trafficking is educating young and old alike. By building schools and education systems in places where such things have never existed, we open a door to not only educate families on the realities of trafficking but to provide another option: the possibility of a bright future brought by a quality education.
2. THE REALITY: Oftentimes, slavery is masked as an opportunity. Traffickers lure in victims by promising work abroad, marriage or even visiting long lost relatives. This false hope is the most popular modus operandi traffickers operate under3.
OUR STRATEGY: We know that before slavery can end in Nepal, appropriate laws and modes to enforce them need to be set in place. We partner with and support specialists in this field who work to bring about long-term legal reform in Nepal. Together we hope to create a reality where traffickers are brought to justice and men, women and children are released from their grasp.
3. THE REALITY: Trafficking isn’t always what it seems. It’s not always how we see it in the movies. Sometimes, it is simply accepting unfair wages and harsh work conditions due to desperate circumstances.
OUR STRATEGY: We are proud to partner with Beauty for Ashes Nepal, an organization that employs and empowers women who have been rescued from trafficking. Through this and other partnerships, we seek to create working conditions where these women can thrive, grow and build their resumes to ensure a future of hope.
4. THE REALITY: In some remote villages, the lack of young girls is stark. Many young women are taken from villages to the border of India to be trafficked, or work in brothels that disguise themselves as restaurants or massage parlours. An estimated 50 women a day are trafficked from Nepal to India. Because of a lack of border control the slave trade can move fluidly from Nepal to India.
OUR STRATEGY: While many are working hard to end slavery in Nepal and India, it is still a reality that we must face. Sometimes, all we can do is rescue and help offer recovery programs. Women and children who have been victimized by traffickers can join our Create Hope art restoration program where we offer a unique opportunity to explore healing through creativity. With a paintbrush in hand, women and girls have the opportunity to process their story in a new light, to see their scars as a reminder of the hope that awaits them.
5. THE REALITY: The hardest to reach places are often the most vulnerable. Nepal is home to many mountain dwellers who struggle against the abuse of traffickers who often target those who live in isolation and extreme poverty.
OUR STRATEGY: We are stronger as an organization hand in hand with others. MountainChild hosts a weekly gathering of organizations and individuals who are working to combat trafficking in Nepal. At these meetings, we network, discuss strategies, plan and encourage one another. Through this anti-trafficking network, we can expose the truths behind trafficking and bring hope to the hardest to reach places-- together!