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DAUGHTERS: MAITI NEPAL

WORDS: SHANTONA SHRESTHA | RESOURCES: MAITI NEPAL 2013 ANNUAL REPORT
maiti

The hustle and haste of the rapidly urbanizing lifestyle of Nepal blankets the harsh realities that happen under everyone’s noses. Underneath the apparently busy façade is a world busily fueling social evils day in and day out. There are hundreds of vulnerable girls and women who are falling prey to human trafficking, and that is only the tip of this behemoth of an iceberg.

Human trafficking is one of the leading international issues; it takes place in every country- for sexual purposes, slavery, bonded labor and prostitution. Stories of innocent girls falling victim to the lures of fancy dreams and promises to be eventually sold as a commodity, is a story painfully too common. In our country, youths are easy targets for the traffickers as they are always looking for opportunities, especially in rural areas where they are bound by daily domestic chores.

MAITI Nepal is a nonprofit organization (NGO) which works extensively towards the elimination of human trafficking. The word Maiti in Nepali context carries a lot of sentimental values as it means a married women’s childhood home. This one word brightens every woman’s heart without fail as they always cherish the house they grew up in. Maiti Nepal is a home for every woman and girl –married or not- it’s a place where one gets a second chance in life.

Maiti Nepal was instigated to protect Nepali girls and women from crimes like domestic violence, trafficking for sexual purposes, prostitution, forced labor and various forms of exploitation and torture. They have highlighted human trafficking issue with strong advocacy and have been able to call on various different international organizations to join them in their quest.

A group of socially committed professionals formed Maiti Nepal in November 1993. The organization focuses on human trafficking for forced prostitution, rescuing flesh trade victims and also rehabilitating them. They are also active in providing justice to the victims by engaging in criminal investigation and waging legal battles against the criminals. Maiti Nepal focuses all its energy in girl trafficking which is a burning issue in Nepal. They  rescue women and girls from various different places and provide them with rehabilitation facilities. Rescued girls are housed in nine different transit homes located in the border towns of Kakarvitta, Bhairawaha, Pashupatinagar, Biratnagar, Birgunj, Nepalgunj, Dhangadi, Mahendranagar and Mahespur. Transit homes provide safe shelter, counseling, medical check-ups and non-formal education classes to rescued girls and trace their parents or guardians.

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The organization has programs such as prevention, advocacy, rescue and rehabilitation. There are three prevention homes of Maiti Nepal which run four- to-six month long residential training for up to 25 at-risk girls at a time. The program consists of psychological counseling and self-esteem building activities. Also they equip them with knowledge regarding trafficking, health care, child and women’s rights and social issues. These girls are again trained with income generating skills such as sewing, candle making, fabric painting, tailoring, handloom weaving and small scale entrepreneurship development. This prevention program also teaches them leadership, group information, communication and community mobilization skills. After graduating from the prevention program the graduates conduct awareness campaigns among others. In their rescue missions they have developed a strategy. As most of the victims are trafficked to India, they have a surveillance team in every check post as a measure. There the team asks people around and takes them out of the bus for interrogation if found suspicious. In this manner the organization has been able to rescue a lot of women and has given them the right skills and opportunity for them to start fresh. Initially the organization struggled with their rescue missions but now they have gained support from government and police departments of Nepal and India. The search for traffickers has become more productive after deploying Maiti Nepal’s crew in various check points. Despite all their efforts and support from different organizations they are still struggling in capturing the perpetrator on the spot.

After rescuing the victims they are then taken to the rehabilitation home where the first priority is given to the victim’s health. Most of the victims are usually found in poor health conditions. After receiving adequate treatment they are then introduced to a counselor who counsels them and helps them overcome their brutal experience. Also the organization helps them in identifying and reuniting survivors with their families and providing them formal education and skills which will help them live an independent life. After the victims recover their health and are stable mentally and physically, they are given women empowering skills with which they can make an independent living. The rescued girls have formed surveillance teams. These teams actively participate and assist police in identifying the criminals in several check points. They also raise public awareness against trafficking and violence against women.

One of the most important activities of the organization is providing legal aid to the victims. They assist in filing cases against the perpetrators and delivering justice to the victims. Maiti Nepal has won numerous cases for the victims and has freed them from their difficult past. Providing justice to the victims is one of the most time consuming works as it has to go through various different stages before the final hearing. At times it takes years while at times it’s just a matter of few months. By providing legal aid at its central office in Kathmandu, Maiti Nepal helps to ensure that justice is done in the cases of children and women who have had their rights violated and helps to promote a sense of proper compensation.

PREVENTION HOME TOTALS

Girls trained on
Women Empowerment – 120 Missing Found – 123/36 Rape Cases registered
in the Court – 09
Girls provided short
term shelter – 51

PRIDE OF THE NATION Anuradha Koirala: Ms. Anuradha Koirala is the Founder and Executive Director of Maiti Nepal. Born in Nepal and a former English teacher, Ms. Koirala started Maiti Nepal in a small house in Kathmandu with her own savings. Today she is a widely recognized activist and lecturer who has dedicated her life to combating the sexual exploitation of women and children. In 2010, Anuradha Koirala was awarded the CNN Hero of the Year to honor her tremendous work and tireless efforts in her

fight against human trafficking. To the victims at Maiti Nepal, she is a friend, a sister, a mother – and she fills all these roles with all her heart.

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