'Aftershocks' of Nepal earthquake include worsening of trafficking crisis; new tactics being used on girls

April 15, 2016

'Aftershocks' of Nepal earthquake include worsening of trafficking crisis; new tactics being used on girls

Photo: Teenage girls in a remote Nepali village attend our trafficking awareness workshop; they are trained in how to spot, avoid and report traffickers.

Today we bring you an important update from our native team in Nepal. In the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake that occurred in last April, traffickers have been exploiting the devastation to snatch thousands of women for brothels and labor sweatshops across Asia. The earthquake left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, mainly in poor rural communities. Tragically, criminal gangs have been taking advantage of people’s desperation by masquerading as relief workers in the chaos left by the earthquake. And now these dangerous men are using new tactics, luring the girls with the exciting promise of good jobs in places like Dubai and Kuwait. The word has somewhat effectively spread about the trafficking scams in India, but there is not enough awareness yet about these fake job offers in the gulf states, so the girls' families are being deceived.

The village families are also in a more desperate position since the earthquake. Many lost everything and are therefore more susceptible to the temptation to send their daughters away to earn money in a foreign country. Shady job agencies are set up in the gulf states to provide paperwork and visas for the girls. However, when they arrive, all of their papers are taken and they are forced into slave labor. In cases of sexual abuse, which are frequently reported, the girls have no recourse, as they have no access to legal support or police in those societies. We have now started to see a few girls manage to escape and get back to Nepal from these situations. We are happy to report that one of these girls spent some time at our rehabilitation home last year. She had been the victim of exactly this kind of deception.

Photo inset: (Top-left): One of our team members teaches a trafficking awareness class to a group of local teenage girls. (Top-right): The girls at our rehabilitation home recently harvested tomatoes from their garden. (Bottom-left): The girls in our program learn how to make stuffed animals as part of their skill development coursework. (Bottom-right): These girls proudly show the certificates they received from completing their 6-month skill development course at our rehabilitation home.

Thankfully, our native team is well suited to respond to this tragedy by broadening their already extensive trafficking awareness programs. We organize frequent trafficking awareness counseling classes for girls ages 15-18 in the heavily-trafficked areas, and for women of all ages in other areas. This month we equipped 100 teenage girls through our training classes which are styled in a workshop and discussion format. We also reached hundreds more through our door-to-door trafficking awareness program in the surrounding villages, and also through our monthly border trafficking awareness program for the girls who pass through the border.

All of the teachers and students are thankful for our trafficking awareness programs which allow the girls to talk about guilt, fear, shame, anger, and their safety — they are encouraged to open up and learn from each other’s experiences. They are also taught to identify different problems and dangerous situations, and they are given the solutions. They are taught to stay away from strangers, to know the difference between true love and flattery from a stranger, to stay away from the lure of promised money and employment, to not exchange phone numbers or other information on Facebook, to understand their own responsibility towards their family and community, how to develop self-dignity and respect, and to know the laws and punishments regarding human trafficking.

In other news, the girls at our rehabilitation home are doing well in the aftermath of the earthquake — four girls recently completed their 6-month skill development course, a great accomplishment. They are healthy and happy, learning to make stuffed animals and various Nepali dresses which are popular among Nepalese women. They are also learning to make women’s purses — many of their creations are sold online at the She Has Hope crafts shop where all the profits go toward the girls’ rehabilitation. The girls have also been preparing the soil at their garden project for the coming planting season when they will plant bell peppers and tomatoes. We look forward to reporting back about the harvest of these vegetables in August, and we are so grateful for your generous donations and your faithful prayers.

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