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.

11:25 AM

Maiti Nepal …Turning Lives Around

“Being a CNN Hero doesn’t make us proud but it reminds us that the problem still exists and we need to join hands to fight against it.” - Anuradha Koirala

When a bad situation befalls you, do you buckle down and leave it to fate? Or do you stand up, fight for your right and turn around to make things right?

When Maiti Nepal founder Anuradha Koirala had the misfortune of becoming a battered wife and suffered from her husband’s abuses, she had the courage to fight back and walk away. Not many in a society where women are expected to be submissive and complacent to their spouses would have done that.  But Anuradha did more. Not wanting to go back to an abused life or see others like her suffer the same fate again, she did what other women during that time didn’t have the courage to do…she founded Maiti Nepal in 1993.       

Maiti Nepal is a haven for women and children who have nowhere to go, especially the trafficked and abused. It works not only to provide shelter for them but also to seek justice for the victims.  Since then, Maiti Nepal has established three prevention homes, eleven transit homes, a hospices and Teresa Academy.
Its programs include awareness campaigns on sex trafficking, rescue operations for trafficked women and girls, apprehending traffickers, providing legal support to the needy, women empowerment programs, and providing anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to HIV infected children and women. It also provides educational support to the children and women who have a desire for learning and psychological counseling, support, and life skills to girls/women at risk of being trafficked.

The organization’s feats have earned Anuradha the Courage of Conscience Award from The Peace Abbey in 2006, the. CNN Hero of the Year Award in 2010. The United States government has also given a two-year grant of $500,000 to Maiti Nepal in April 2010. Anuradha to date, has received 30 national and international awards for her achievements in advocating for children’s and women’s rights.

Problems at Hand:

Maiti Nepal is just one among many other NGOs that continue to battle the prevalent and humongous problem on human trafficking. The problems are complex ranging from funding, endangering lives of volunteers and victims, resistance or difficulty in reintegrating and rehabilitating victims, to lack of government support. Added to those difficulties, Maiti Nepal’s operations were also criticized for using extreme measures to deal with the problem. They have been accused of “forcibly rescuing” victims in brothels particularly in instances when the victims themselves refuse to be rehabilitated.

Though programs were launched and laws were passed to protect victims (Labor Act of 1992, the Human Trafficking Control Act of Nepal of 1986, and the National Human Rights Commission Act of 1993, 11th Amendment Bill of 1997, National Plan of Action (NPA) against Trafficking in Children and Women for Sexual and Labor Exploitation in 2001), studies made show the need to increase law enforcement efforts against all types of trafficking. The lack of enthusiasm by some government officials also point to the reality that some have been found to be complicit in trafficking. Corruption contributes to the problem. Most traffickers remain free because they can buy their way out by bribing authorities. This “power” they have over authorities lessen the victims’ trust on law enforcers for fear of retaliation. Like many societies, victims also tend to be viewed as the guilty party and blamed for their situation and may even end up imprisoned instead of the trafficker. 

Furthering the Cause:

The laudable efforts of Maiti Nepal and other NGOs in rescuing and rehabilitating victims will be difficult to achieve without government support. That there is an initiative and determination by Maiti Nepal and other NGOs to combat trafficking has made collaboration by government with NGOs inevitable albeit the lack of enthusiasm and support by some.  

The need to increase law enforcement efforts against trafficking is critical to mitigating if not altogether eradicating the problem. Campaigns to changing the mindset of society to respect the rights of victims, promote awareness of victims’ legal rights and providing for their reintegration and rehabilitation are just as essential.

With about10,000 Nepalese girls mostly between the age of nine and 16 trafficked every year and sold to brothels in India alone, programs to repatriate Nepali victims of trafficking have to be established. This is where Maiti Nepal works hand-in-hand with authorities to help rehabilitate the victims and provide them with the means to survive and be self-sustaining.

Through workshops, education, legal assistance, basic needs programs, the victims are able to get back on their feet and gain independence to provide for themselves to secure their daily needs.

With NGOs like Maiti Nepal creating awareness and actively advocating against human trafficking, victims have a chance of making a new and better life for themselves.

2)      Maiti Nepal -