Stopping Child Trafficking in Nepal
Children in some of the most disadvantaged districts in Nepal are at risk of being trafficked for child labour, child marriage and sexual exploitation and, after the two earthquakes hit the country in 2015, Unicef feared a surge in child-trafficking. “Loss of livelihoods and worsening living conditions may allow traffickers to easily convince parents to give their children up for what they are made to believe will be a better life. The traffickers promise education, meals and a better future. But the reality is that many of those children could end up being horrendously exploited and abused”, said Tomoo Hozumi, representative of Unicef Nepal.
It is estimated that in Nepal 40% of children between five and seventeen years old – over three million boys and girls – are forced into labour and between 11,000 and 13,000 women and girls are working in the “night entertainment industry” in the Kathmandu Valley alone.
Unicef, with a donation from The Circle and in partnership with the Nepali Government and local community groups, is implementing a project that aims to establish a comprehensive system led by the Government that protects children from trafficking. Surveillance and screenings at border controls have been increased and interception points have been set up. The Government has also banned children from travelling between districts without their legal guardians and orphanages can no longer receive new children without the authorisation of the Government.
The project also aims to offer direct services to 25,000 children, predominantly girls, by 2017. These services include helplines, shelter, medical care, legal aid, psycho-social counselling, and social, economic and educational reintegration.
The project is conducting research to gain a deeper understanding of the roots and causes of child trafficking, how many children it affects, who is benefiting from it and how the children are moved. At a community level, local partners and volunteers are working to support families and prevent them from sending their children away in the hope that they will have a better future elsewhere. Volunteers are also being trained to identify and refer children who could be at risk.