A holistic approach to addressing Girls' Trafficking (VOF Month 1)
Although there are a number of organizations working against trafficking of women and girls, little seems to have changed. Maiti Nepal is one organization which actually stands out—not only because it has the crusader of girls’ trafficking Ms Anuradha Koirala herself, but also because it addresses the issue differently.
During my meeting with Ms Koirala, she informed me of some amazing activities that Maiti Nepal organization is doing. “As part of our prevention strategy, we reach out to the community, particularly adolescent girls, students, teachers, and VDC leaders to attack the root cause of trafficking—ignorance,” she expressed. In addition, they also have community outreach programs where they conduct public information campaigns, consultative workshops, and information sharing.
As I dig in for more, Ms Koirala shared, “we run anti-trafficking safety network groups in Nepal-Indo border and establish surveillance system to protect women and children from being trafficked.” Additionally, they have 10 transit homes at major Indo-Nepal border to intercept potential victims, and apprehend traffickers, provide safe transit shelter to their respective villages, and provide information on safe migration.
Girls who are at risk of being trafficked are sheltered in their Prevention Homes for a period between four to six months, where they receive counseling, income generating skills training (sewing, carpet weaving, fabric painting, tailoring, local soap making, bakery product making and handloom weaving), and life skills such as health-care education, non-formal education, and comprehensive information and education on Human Trafficking.
Since small hotel and restaurant sector in Nepal has emerged as a visible intermediary supply site in the context of trafficking of children and women, Maiti Nepal initiated soliciting for the rights of women employees after receiving reports of cases of exploitation in this sector. Several facilities like availability of identity cards, safe and hygienic working environment, job guarantee, fixed working hours for female employees, uniform for female employees, etc were introduced.
Maiti Nepal has Rehabilitation Homes which are safe home to those who are in immediate need, and those who have been physically or psychologically scarred. The key activities of the Rehabilitation Home is providing shelter, arranging for non-formal as well as formal education, counseling and psychotherapy sessions, filing cases against accused criminals, and encouraging the residents to become self-reliant. Ms Koirala highlighted that “In addition to providing professional and vocational trainings to survivors of trafficking, we help them find employment and provide them with seed money to start-up their own enterprise.”
As the country is in the process of drafting a new constitution, Ms Koirala opined that the problem of girls’ trafficking can be tackled only if the following three issues are addressed in the constitution—free and compulsory education, compulsory birth registration, and guaranteed employment.
It is said, difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer—Ms Koirala is certainly not giving up easy just because the road she has embarked on is close to impossible. She is ready to wait a little longer.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.