Development Dialogue

Development Dialogue is a language of contemporary discourses on human development which aims to stimulate each entity of the society for a new history of humanity. It stands for communicating the problems that people face and hence is more value-based than other units of human life. Envisioned with better quality of human life it admires the imagination of ordinary citizens, their daily concerns and necessities and circulate these elements in policy articulation.

3:02 AM

Fighting Poverty and Traficking...Getting Involved

In Nepal, trafficking has become a highly profitable business.  Not surprising. With almost one-third of its population living below the poverty line, Nepal and other countries with impoverished population are vulnerable to trafficking. Victims of trafficking often come from the very poorest regions of Nepal. Without education or opportunity, they often live with their families on the poorest parts of society where food may be scarce or clean water unavailable. Criminal elements thrive and feed on those driven to desperation to survive and hoping to have a better life elsewhere.

Trafficking comes in various forms - forced labor, domestic and factory work, prostitution, slavery. Millions of women and girls have been trafficked within and across borders over the years. According to a 2001 report by Asia Foundation and Horizons Project Population Council report, profits generated in trafficking is so much more than that generated from the arms and narcotics trade.

What Statistics Show

·  Girl trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry in Nepal generating an estimated five to seven billion U.S. dollars a year.

·  7,000 to 10,000 Nepalese girls between the ages of 9 and 16 are trafficked against their will every year.

·  5,000 Nepalese women are trafficked into India yearly. As many as 70% of girls in India's brothels are HIV positive.

·  Trafficking thrives on poverty: 55% of people in Nepal live on less than US$1.25 per day.

·  2005 data from case records documented by six rehabilitation centers in Nepal of sex-trafficked women show that most (72.7%) rural girls who are trafficked are Hindu by religion. 59.9% are unmarried. 46.5% are 16-18 yrs of age and 77.2% have no or little education.

·   Most sex-trafficking (59.4%) in Nepal is carried out through “Dalals” or brokers who falsely guarantee good work to girl-children who are willing to travel to other country locations. At times, the some Dalals even pretend to marry girls who come from families with little resources, as they sell them in the brothels.

In a study made, child marriage is accepted Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and is considered the best method to procure girls for prostitution (Indrani Sinha, SANLAAP India, "Paper on Globalization & Human Rights").

The tragedy though, is that most, if not all trafficking victims fall into forced prostitution because of false promises made by someone “familiar” to them. Some are sold by their very own parents or relatives to pay off debts or out of dire poverty, or, to simply get rid of unwanted wives or daughters. They get sold for US$200 to $ commodities. 

The Challenges Ahead

Support and involvement of the community is needed in reintegrating trafficked victims in society. Trafficked survivors are often voiceless and harassed if they choose to speak up. Challenges have to be addressed and the lack or absence of critical enablers to reintegrate them back into the streamline of society slows down progress.

1)  Trafficked victims need medical assistance to help them physically and emotionally get back within the streamline of society but one of the biggest problems is shortage of health care workers.  According to the World Health Organization report released this September 2012, Nepal is among the countries with fewer than 23 health workers (doctors, nurses and midwives) per 10,000 population. This is considered the required minimum health workforce needed to achieve 80% coverage of essential health interventions.

2) Trafficking is oftentimes organized and managed by crime syndicates capable of corrupting law enforcers to turn a blind eye or even go to the extent of threatening or endangering lives of anyone who intervenes in their “trade.”  They can have the political clout to get the protection they need to keep their brothels running.  

3) Those trafficked into prostitution seldom escape their fate once they enter the brothel. The few that do sometimes refuse assistance because they fear society would judge them harshly or because they are never able to overcome the trauma of what they went through. 

4) The “deukis” system where childless families buy girls and are offered to temples as their own then are forced into prostitution continues to be practiced by many families.  In a 1997 UN Special Report on Violence Against Women, it was reported that in 1992, 17,000 girls were given as deukis. 

5) There continues to be a need to change the mindset of people on the low status treatment of the girl-child compared to the boy-child in the family.

6) Most critical is the need for more government support not only in preventing intra and cross-border trafficking in countries like India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh but also in coming out with programs to eradicate poverty and bolster education.  

What’s Being Done?

Poverty and lack of education have always been associated with trafficking. Unless these are eradicated, trafficking will remain a problem of the times. Women and children will continue to go missing and undocumented, many never to be heard from again. NGO chairperson Durga Ghimire  of National Network Groups Against Trafficking also confirms the finding  that “low rates of female literacy, coupled with the traditionally low status of the girl-child in Nepal have to be addressed to tackle the problem.”    

Some say that the exploitation of women and children may never end. But the close collaboration among government, NGOs and the community can significantly mitigate its proliferation.  

The growing number of non-government organizations (NGO) has augmented the lack of support from government in addressing the problems on trafficking and poverty.  Maiti Nepal, a 20 yr old rescue organization, based in Kathmandu, is one of the NGOs that manage ongoing rescue of Nepali girls from the brothels of Mumbai.  Friends of Nepal, its sister organization confirms stories of organized criminals controlling trafficking. The NGO explains the risks of rescuing trafficked Nepali citizens in India where members of Maiti Nepal have to travel with bodyguards when conducting rescue missions.

There are several shelters run by various Katmandu-based NGOs working against trafficking and towards rehabilitation of girls who manage to escape or are rescued from Indian brothels. However, the problem of reuniting them with their families and reintegrating them back in the streamline of society is complex.  Relatives often don't want them back and Nepal's government is worried about the spread of HIV.

The group Plan Youth (Fighting Against Child Trafficking, Plan Youth) is lobbying and advocating for anti-trafficking and sexual abuse policies to ensure that the government has effective laws. It is working directly with government, police and community groups to create a National Plan of Action against human trafficking.  This includes:

1) helping girls to file legal cases against traffickers and perpetrators. 

2) communities in Nepal forming protection groups – special clubs of girls and community members who work together to guard against the risks of child trafficking. These groups keep an eye out for traffickers and exploitative situations, as well as advocating for girls' rights at a local level. They help to raise awareness and protect girls from violence and trafficking.

3) rehabilitation and reintegration of victims into their families and communities  

4) Promoting  gender equality and empowering women Nyaya Health is also working to expand its outreach to “thousands in the rural area.”  It has re-opened the Byalpata Hospital in the Achham District in Western Nepal. Training of over 100  rural community health workers is also in its action plans. Over 101,000 people in the region  have so far accessed free health care since 2008 as part of  Nyaya Health’s endeavour.

Initiative Nepal also focuses on youth awareness and action plans to encourage youth involvement in the community. Through Initiative Nepal’s social forums, awareness initiatives undertaken by various groups to address social issues like trafficking are brought to fore.

The youth can get involved and align themselves with NGOs like Plan Youth, Nayata Health or other growing number of NGOs and take responsibility in giving a voice to the voiceless, helping protect and empowering those who need to be educated and saved from the dark holes of poverty and trafficking.

Getting involved can make a difference to the lives of many voiceless victims.
  • ·   Start small...volunteer.
  • ·   Make others aware of the community’s social problems, write/blog about it  
  • ·   Help NGOs in their awareness or reintegration programs
  • ·   Call on government to take stronger action by asking them  to:
      • o   provide access to education
      • o   address corruption in government
      • o   strengthen border security to prevent trafficking
      • o   organize and take the lead in awareness programs to prevent trafficking

  • Alone we may not be able to do much but TOGETHER, people will stop and listen.



Post a Comment