I have been very passionate about the sex trafficking end of slavery for quite a time now. I learn something new every time I do research, read about the subject, talk to others about the problem, or talk to those who’ve been there. Imagine tonight watching the premiere of Demi Moore’s documentary “Nepal’s Stolen Children” on CNN how much I learned directly from the victims, the families, the rescuers, and the government. The horrors of the crime of sex trafficking reach farther than just the pimps, johns, and victims. It destroys families. It affects villages. It hurts women. And it hurts those who are stuck into the depths of poverty. Some facts about what I learned about Nepal and their fight against sex trafficking:
30% of Nepalese people are in dire poverty. Because of this poverty, the promise of employment and a better life are the weapons lurers use to trick the uneducated.
Education is not mandatory in Nepal. If given the choice, boys will attend school over girls, making girls more vulnerable to perpetrators.
Legislation is changing to include education for all children in Nepal.
36,000 underage girls are currently involved in sex slavery annually, and that may be higher.
There are no current regulations at border control with Nepalese people and Indian people crossing the border- they do not need to show an ID or passport and can come and go as they please without question. Thousands cross these borders daily, even trafficking girls into India.
These are alarming facts, but hopefully there is hope for the children of Nepal in the future. What struck me as painful to me and many who watched the documentary was the deep pain that these victims endured. But once they returned home, that pain continued. There was one girl whose daughter was born in the brothels her mother was caught in. The mother was rescued, but the daughter who was separated from her daughter by the pimps and most likely abused herself, was still there. Later rescued, they were then reunited, but the two-year old daughter did not even recognize her own mother (and if you’re around a toddler who deals with separation anxiety, this was very painful and heartbreaking to witness). In other instances, families were reunited after victims were rescued, but because of the societal stigma of girls working in brothels, there was definitely awkwardness, and not the warm embracing welcome you would hope in these situations. There were many girls who had children. Some of them were separated while getting treatment for HIV and other diseases they contracted while being victims in a prostitution ring. Many girls who were reunited with their families or would go out to work an honest living did not want their families or employers to know that they were at Maiti Nepal, a rehabilitation center and school. This center was run by a lioness of a lady, Anuradha Koirala. Her passion for these girls and against the evils of sex slavery was evident in this documentary. I wish I had her guts. In a country where men dominate the scene, she has a fire in her that lets nobody get in her way when it comes to protecting girls. She was at the border of Nepal and India questioning people entering and exiting her country to make sure sex trafficking was not happening on her watch. She is tough but tender. She cares for each and every one of the girls and the children brought into Maiti Nepal. Many she had rescued herself along with her team. It is no wonder that CNN has named her the CNN Hero of the Year for 2010. Anuradha is definitely inspiring for all abolitionists whose one wish is to end child slavery around the world, but particularly where they live.
Which brings me to my last point. Demi Moore mentioned this, as well as knowing this is a fact from the abolitionist group I am a part of: What is happening in Nepal with sex trafficking is very similar to the sex trade happening on American soil. It’s happening in Atlanta, Georgia as well as Bangkok Thailand; in Toledo, OH as well as in Nepal. Because of this, we CAN do something about it. Get educated on the facts of global slavery and human trafficking. Tell others. Get others together and come up with creative solutions. Support those fighting in the field, rescuing victims, rehabilitating and helping those get their lives back. Anyone can help. As Demi said at the end of the show, what if it were your daughter? What would you do?