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Eight ways to help stop human trafficking in Nepal

Nepalese women and children

Nepalese women and children are vulnerable to human trafficking following the earthquakes. DFID under a Creative Commons Licence

Nepal has been struck by a second earthquake, just weeks after the Gorkha Earthquake killed more than 8,000 people and left 18,000 injured. This time, the earthquake reached 7.3 on the Richter scale, and was followed by 6 aftershocks. The Nepalese home ministry is reporting that at least another 900 people have been injured. As aid agencies renew their call for donations, the world’s media have swung into action with human interest stories and lists of the best charities to donate to. So far, however, little practical information has been made available on how to help prevent human trafficking, to which, in the wake of the earthquakes,  thousands of girls and young women are more vulnerable than ever. With this in mind, we have compiled 8 ways to help counteract human trafficking, both in Nepal and around the world:

1. Set up a small, regular donation, rather than a big one-off sum. In the aftermath of any natural disaster the human impulse is to donate to victims of the tragedy – but the impact of the Nepalese earthquakes will be felt long after donations dry up. Right now people are focusing on survival and it may take weeks or even months to realize the extent of the devastation. At this point the world’s attention will be elsewhere, along with relief efforts, and destitute families will be more vulnerable to traffickers wishing to buy children and pimp out women. Making a small, regular, donation can help counteract this.

2. If you are able to donate, keep an eye on where your money is going.
New Internationalist covered the problematic history of NGOs in its December 2014 issue and they are not always efficient in the way they distribute funding. You can keep an eye on how charities use your donations via websites like Charity Navigator, which already has a list of the best charities to donate re. Nepal.

3. Donate to anti-human trafficking charities already working within Nepal. Many charities have experience working with trafficked women and children but by donating to a charity already active in Nepal you ensure that local knowledge and skills are already in place. 3 Angels Nepal was started by Dr Rajendra Gautam. It is also active in campaigning to close the open borders between India and Nepal which leads us to...

4. Lobby the Indian government to tighten security along the India-Nepal border. Most of the women and children trafficked out of Nepal will be taken to India and without scrutiny their number is likely to increase dramatically. It’s not easy to police a 1,600-kilometre long border (especially as relief work leaves even fewer resources for patrols) but many charities working in the area are already lobbying the Indian government to do more.

5. Speaking of lobbying: make sure anti-trafficking measures are incorporated into future disaster plans. In 2014 The US Department of State identified Nepal as failing to meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards for safeguarding potential trafficking victims. These are unlikely to be the only earthquakes Nepal experiences in 2015 and now, with the world’s eyes upon the country, is the time to start campaigning for safeguarding of potential victims to be written into all future disaster contingency plans.

6. Make sure sanitary products for women and girls are prioritized. According to the United Nations Population Fund at least 2 million girls and women of reproductive age were affected by the first Nepalese earthquake. Sanitary products are not always a high priority post-disaster but they are vital for ensuring that women can help with the relief efforts and are not left even more vulnerable to traffickers who will often use women’s sanitary needs as leverage to build a relationship. For more details on women’s charities supplying sanitary products take a look at the Global Fund for Women.

7. Scrutinize attempts to adopt orphaned children. In the wake of the first earthquake in Nepal the Israeli government evacuated 26 babies who had been recently born to Nepalese mothers, but left the mothers themselves behind. This has caused varying levels of outrage but setting aside the legal and ethical sides to this argument: adoption and removal of vulnerable children from a disaster zone should be discouraged. Traffickers will frequently use bogus adoption agencies to traffic children and a surge in Western adoption requests will help normalize the removal of children from Nepal.

8. Continue to raise awareness. Once the world’s attention is elsewhere the trafficking of vulnerable people will begin in earnest. To help create continued awareness of the situation in Nepal, build it into your local community. Have a regular fundraising drives at your school or office and support campaigns in the impacted country (in this case, tighter border control and closer monitoring of adoption procedures). Tiny Hands, an anti-trafficking charity working in Nepal, has further suggestions for how individuals can raise awareness and funds.

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