‘Human trafficking has not come under priority radar’


Kathmandu, July 31: On July 30, Maiti Nepal was one of the organisations that celebrated World Day Against Trafficking in Persons with the motto of “Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind”. 

Founded in 1993 by Anuradha Koirala, 2010 CNN Hero of the Year, Maiti Nepal has been a pioneering organisation working to create a society free from the trafficking of women and children in Nepal.

Koirala was the one who allocated a day against human trafficking and started celebrating it on July 30. It was accepted by the government of Nepal in 2013. The United Nations then started observing July 30 as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in 2014.

Participated by the victims of human trafficking rescued by Maiti Nepal and individuals working against trafficking, women and children marked the day by raising their voices against the serious crime.

Speaking at the programme to mark the day, Koirala stressed that the government had failed to take effective steps to minimise the cases of human trafficking.

The programme was attended by Surendra Raj Acharya, Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens, as the chief guest, and Nepali Congress Lawmaker Dr. Sunil Sharma, alongside representatives of Nepal Police.

“Every day, 10-15 children, especially girls, are brought to Maiti Nepal by security personnel after rescuing them from exploitation from different parts of Kathmandu alone. Some rescued girls were brought today morning as well,” said Koirala.

According to Maiti Nepal, children from several districts are being lured to the capital city of Kathmandu under different assurances and are being exploited physically, mentally and sexually. 

“We send our teams to several eateries, bars, hotels and lodges in the Kathmandu Valley. They inspect the places as guests and collect information from places exploiting women and children. The information is then shared with the Nepal Police and rescue operations are conducted,” said Koirala.

“From the trend of Nepalis being trafficked to India, organised crime has now expanded to different corners of the world. We come in contact with Nepali girls stranded in war-hit countries like Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, among others. The Nepali government is allowing its citizens to get trafficked under the name of migrant workers,” Koirala argued.

Unable to stop her tears after sharing the story of how a 19-year-old boy had trafficked 11 teenage girls to India and how the Nepali Ambassador to the UAE glorified his step to rescue stranded Nepalis nearby Dubai on Saturday, Koirala joined her hands and requested Minister Acharya and Lawmaker Sharma to exercise their authority and power to minimise the cases of human trafficking.

“Nepali Ambassador to the UAE sends me a message saying that he had sent a team for the rescue though it was ‘Saturday’. Government employees need a working day to help stranded citizens. I only see that the Nepal Police is the sole government body that is working day and night against human trafficking,” said Koirala.

Koirala also informed that thousands of Nepalis were being trafficked into several countries across the globe annually. “A survey conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that over 100,000 women, including children and elderlies, were involved in prostitution. I have been under stress seeing how Nepali women and children have been suffering,” added Koirala.

Talking to The Rising Nepal, Koirala said that the authorities have not been able to take strict measures to minimise the cases of human trafficking despite it being a serious problem.

Government serious about trafficking

Addressing the programme organised by Maiti Nepal, Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Surendra Raj Acharya said that the government was taking trafficking as a serious crime.

“Government reports and analysis from Nepal Police show that the trend of human trafficking is changing with time. We are taking the crime seriously and trying to prevent our citizens from being trafficked,” said Minister Acharya.

Minister Acharya also stressed that poverty, lack of education, open border with India and the bad influence of social media had caused human trafficking to prevail despite the efforts to control it.

“Maiti Nepal and other national and international organisations’ cooperation is essential to tackle human trafficking. We look forward to coordinate with such organisations,” said Minister Acharya.

Lawmaker Dr. Sunil Sharma honoured

Maiti Nepal felicitated Dr. Sunil Sharma, a lawmaker from Nepali Congress, for his assistance to the victims of human trafficking to receive quality treatment.

“Whenever anyone in Maiti Nepal gets sick, s/he reaches Dr. Sharma’s Sinamangal-based Kathmandu Medical College (KMC). The KMC provides free treatment those from Maiti Nepal. It has been of great help for us,” said Koirala.

According to Koirala, an individual who goes by the name “Lungeli” was suffering from cancer in the brain. “The KMC provided free treatment and Lungeli is now operating a factory producing T-shirts. Many others have been treated by the KMC and are now leading a healthy life,” she added.

Citing that the honour was a motivation, Dr. Sharma assured to gift an ambulance to Maiti Nepal after the organisation received permission from the Health Ministry.

“Anuradha Koirala is the name known to all Nepalis. She is working hard even at her old age to save other women and children. The KMC will continue to provide free treatment to individuals from Maiti Nepal as a small addition to the organisation’s great deeds,” said Dr. Sharma.

Maiti Nepal also honoured students of 14 schools who participated in the art and essay competitions on anti-human trafficking drive.

“We are reaching schools and generating awareness on human trafficking as the children aged 12-17 years are currently at grave risk of being trafficked,” said Koirala.

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