Human Trafficking in Nepal
Millions of Nepalese citizens are at risk of becoming victims of the human trafficking trade every year. However, one can only estimate the statistically correct percentage of victims. Captivating International, a nonprofit based in Nepal, founded My Business-My Freedom in the hopes of fighting human trafficking in Nepal.

My Business-My Freedom

My Business-My Freedom is a micro-finance and education program helping Nepalese women achieve business success, self-sustainability and freedom. Beneficiaries include both women who are most at risk of becoming victims of trafficking and current rescued survivors of human trafficking in Nepal.

The organization estimates that a loan of $200 will help one woman start her business and that when she repays it, it will go to the next prospective business owner. Currently, 240 women living in Pokhara and Chitwan are immersed in the program with room to grow. The initiative plans to continue expanding into other regions and aiding around 1,000 women per year.

How does My Business-My Freedom Work?

The program leads each woman through the process of starting a business including ensuring that it is successful, well-funded and sustainable. The My Business-My Freedom program involves the following steps for prospective business owners:

  • Providing training about entrepreneurship and business opportunity.
  • Mentoring on money management, savings, budgeting and other basic business skills.
  • Connecting with other women in similar circumstances in order to create a sense of belonging and community.
  • A low-interest loan to start up the business: when it is paid, the owner is eligible to take future loans until it is no longer necessary.

Captivating International and COVID-19 Relief

In recent news, My Business-My Freedom partnered with 3 Angels Nepal to combat food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The partnership accomplished this through checking in on women and families over the phone. If the women and their families were in need, the partnership made and delivered food relief packages to them. These packages included rice, dal, cooking oil, salt, soybeans and lentils.

The efforts of Captivating International and 3 Angels Nepal found that 30 women were in need, and provided them and their families with food. The latter organization also works on the ground by suspending loan payments and providing both phone support and food assistance.

Lowering Vulnerability Through Funding Successful Entrepreneurs

According to the Report of Armed Police Force of India, the number of Nepalese girls working in sex trafficking in India increased quite steadily from 2012 to 2017. Child trafficking is incredibly high as well. Captivating International, through My Business-My Freedom, is just one of the organizations working to eradicate human trafficking in Nepal. In covering a widening area of influence and contributing to building the economy, Captivating International is creating sustainability by increasing security and income for women. This, in turn, should help to alleviate the vulnerable populations that traffickers prey upon in Nepal.

Savannah Gardner
Photo: Flickr

In the wake of the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal on April 25, the world responded to help those buried in rubble, but as the region rebuilt itself, traffickers preyed from the shadows on families seeking a better life.

Even before the earthquake hit two months ago, human trafficking in Nepal plagued communities and victimized children. According to a 2001 International Labor Organization study, 12,000 Nepalese children were brought to India as a result of human trafficking every year.

After natural disasters such as earthquakes, children face a greater risk of being trafficked. Girls who are not forced into prostitution would be sold as domestic slaves in India or other countries, and boys are often subjected to harsh working conditions against their will.

Traffickers approach tragedy stricken families offering education, food and security for their children, when in reality, children are whisked away in to a life of monstrous exploitation and horrendous abuse.

Thankfully, multiple organizations have made efforts to deal with the aforementioned issues. UNICEF, a United Nations children’s organization is working closely with the police in Nepal and has already rescued 245 children since the earthquake, by intercepting and thus preventing them from slipping into a dark underworld of sex slavery and forced labor. UNICEF is also supporting the local police in the establishment of 84 checkpoints and police stations throughout the country.

Maiti Nepal, a national NGO, non-profit organization, with the help of UNICEF, is beefing up interception and screening stations along the India and Chinese borders. UNICEF is ensuring child accountability through the strengthening of information management and coordination systems.

The Nepalese government suspended international adoption since the earthquake and in early June, they banned children from traveling between districts without parents or approved guardians. The registration of new orphanages has also been suspended.

The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, issued an advisory to increase vigilance at border controls and has advised the society in India to be aware of human trafficking. UNICEF has since spearheaded an awareness and public information campaign by radio reaching the population through 40,000 flyers on prevention of family separation.

25 airline companies operating in Nepal have also been made aware of the need to screen passengers, ensuring that children are accompanied by their legal care givers. Radio Nepal is concurrently airing messages, reaching an estimated 70 percent of the population bolstering awareness.

Lastly, UNICEF has supported the establishment of hundreds of child friendly spaces and temporary learning centers, providing children with education programs as part of a back to school campaign.

Another problem in Nepal, which often hides behind a cloak of good intentions is “Orphanage Voluntourism”. Families around the world with expressed interest to adopt children perceived or mistaken to be orphans, are left unaware about the fact that these children have been deliberately separated from their families to attract high fee paying adoptive families.

UNICEF and its partners have thereby been working to encourage orphanage volunteering programs to discontinue their practices as volunteers. Although for the most part well intentioned, these can be ignorant to deceptive practices. Moreover, backgrounds are usually not adequately checked.

Nepal, like much of the developing world has thus been diseased by human trafficking long before the earthquake in April. After the catastrophe, however, the practice has amplified as wolves in sheep’s clothing prey on the unsuspecting and desperate. Organizations such as UNICEF are therefore out to bring down those who would seek to unreasonably profit from innocence and disaster.

– Jason Zimmerman

Sources: Free for Life, UNICEF, American Himalayan Foundation, The Guardian
Photo: UN News Centre