In Nepal, people everyday drive, bike or walk through one of about 200 border posts circling the edge of the country. Most travellers leave for shopping, family or work, but among the mundane, some of them are being secretly human trafficked.
Child Rescue has raised its presence from six to ten border stations in Nepal to find and rescue girls and women being trafficked across the border. Five more border stations are planned to be opened early this year too.
Wayne, our country manager in Nepal, says these new stations will have a “huge impact” against human trafficking in the country.
Our ten are a good start. But we feel five more are necessary to really stem off trafficking.”
Since September, Child Rescue launched four new border stations in the country, adding to our original six stations. Three of the new stations are near the same region as one of our existing stations, while the fourth is in a new region and has already rescued 39 people.
While these new border stations will dent human trafficking in Nepal, Wayne says it will take between 35 and 40 border stations in total to eradicate the issue in the country.
“There’s plenty of room for funders to come on board,” he says.
When deciding how to expand our presence at the border, Wayne says he strategically plans growth where he anticipates most victims of trafficking to cross.
When we rescue a kid, we track what area of Nepal they are from. With this information, we’re determining where we are going to put border monitoring points.”
The scope of the crisis
Nepal, home to about 29 million people, is sandwiched between two giant nations.
There is an open border between one of the nations, allowing travellers to scoot in and out without passports or visas, at which thousands of people do every day.
Nepal’s border police and security desire to crack down on human trafficking, but often their resources are strained looking for illegal possessions, allowing traffickers to move their victims between countries without being detected. In 2016, 170,000 Nepali people were trafficked, according to global anti-trafficking Walk Free Foundation.
Child Rescue is partnered with the country’s police and security. They have requested our presence at each of our organisation’s border stations. “They want us there,” Wayne says.
Wayne says there are also more victims of human trafficking following Covid-19. As lockdowns in the country lessen, “trafficking will spike even more.”
interviews lead to a rescue
To combat this crisis, Child Rescue’s ten border stations are open seven days a week. At each station, our border agents conduct about 50 interviews a week on average. Of these interviews, about 2% to 4% lead to a rescue.
Our border agents, Wayne says, work long hours in tough conditions in the country. It can be up to 45 degrees celsius, humid and feature large mosquitoes.
What’s a border rescue?
Visit our Nepal country profile to learn more about the country and our work fighting sex trafficking at the border.Learn More
Two types of bait
Traffickers often use a false job as bait to get women and girls in Nepal to pack their bags and leave home.
The tactic works because these women are desperate to find a wage job given there are only a handful of these jobs available in the country. Four in ten jobs are paid in Nepal, according to a report this year by the World Bank. Because of this drought in paid employment, more than a quarter of households in the country have a family member working abroad.
The reason there are a slim number of paid jobs is that small-to-medium businesses simply cannot afford to hire more staff. Often, they are out of pocket because they invest a lot of money sending their goods across the country’s mountainous landscape.
Traffickers mislead with promises of love and marriage as bait too.
About 80% of those we rescue have been deceived on social media, Wayne says. Traffickers use platforms such as Facebook, to introduce themselves to women and girls in Nepal before building a fake romantic relationship and inviting them to travel abroad. But if the victims cross the border, they typically fall into forced marriage or commercial sex exploitation in a bar, brothel or another sex establishment.
This is a living hell. If they end up here, it is very difficult to get them out,”
Two-thirds of women, who were migrating from Nepal in 2016, left for marriage, according to the Ministry of Health Nepal.
Nepali women and girls view marriage as a step towards financial stability as men are often the breadwinners in families in Nepal. For example, half of the working women in Nepal in 2016 were not paid a penny for their work, while more than 70% of working men were paid in cash, according to the Ministry of Health Nepal.
More like Kaya
In August, Kaya, 25, was one of many women in the country migrating out of the country. Her travels were not of her own will though as she was being trafficked by a man who was pretending to be her boyfriend.
The man tried to escort her and her three-year-old daughter across the border, coercing her into compliance after he threatened to hang himself in a hotel room they were sharing the night before. Thankfully, Child Rescue’s border agents interviewed them at the border and freed her and her daughter.
Child Rescue’s border agents rescued over 200 people like her in 2020, and are planning to free many more following the opening of our new border stations.
Our organisation is planning to have a presence at five more border stations next year, costing about AUD$206,000 to establish and run for a year.
This cost also covers our transitional homes at each border station. These homes are for new survivors to stay in while waiting for their family to pick them up. Our border agents also live here during their shifts and care for the survivors.
Child Rescue believes border rescues could become our primary type of rescue mission given the scope of human trafficking in the country. One beautiful aspect of these border stations is that most women and children we rescue have yet to experience abuse.
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