Anuradha Koirala

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Nepal’s Fearless Crusader Against Sex Trafficking
Anuradha Koirala
“The clandestine nature of human trafficking continues to make it difficult to prevent and rescue potential victims.”

Maiti Nepal is one of Equality Now’s partners in the Fund for Grassroots Activism to End Sex Trafficking. Founded in 1993 by renowned women’s rights advocate Ms. Anuradha Koirala, Maiti Nepal seeks to address several issues affecting women and girls including domestic violence, sex trafficking, child labor and other forms of exploitation and human rights abuses. A special focus of Maiti Nepal has always been on preventing sex trafficking, rescuing and rehabilitating survivors, advocating for justice in their cases and ensuring that the criminal justice system takes effective action against traffickers.

Some of Maiti Nepal's most trailblazing work is on surveillance of the border crossings between Nepal and India where the organization operates 12 intervention outposts. Young women from Maiti (trafficking survivors), in cooperation with police, watch for suspicious activity and intervene when they identify a potential trafficking situation. Maiti Nepal rescue over 2,000 girls before they could be sold to brothels each year. The intervention outposts also serve as safe houses providing temporary shelter and ensuring safe passage back home for the girls and young women when appropriate.

Maiti Nepal’s founder Anuradha Koirala was voted CNN Hero of 2010. We congratulate Anuradha, who talks with us briefly here about her work.

What inspired you to start Maiti Nepal?

I was brought up in a family that regarded providing services for humankind as the best form of pious work. Secondly, I studied in a convent school, where I grew up with sisters and mother that further increased my devotion towards the social work. Finally, Mother Teresa was the biggest source of inspiration to instigate a mission for the betterment of humankind. These reasons led to the establishment of Maiti Nepal.

What changes have you seen since you started Maiti Nepal?

During the early years when Maiti Nepal was formed, the government and people did not even recognize trafficking of humans as a crime. After much advocacy work, the government now acknowledges human trafficking as a crime and an anti-trafficking law was enacted on 25th August, 2007. Further 5th September is now recognized as Anti-Trafficking Day by the Government of Nepal. This was an initiative started by Maiti Nepal.

Awareness in the community has increased as well. Nowadays, people have started reporting missing cases to Maiti Nepal and the police, when a decade ago, people were unaware. As a result more trafficking cases are reported in police stations and cases are filed in courts. In many cases survivors are victorious in their battle against human traffickers. This wider awareness has decreased the cases of trafficking. Globally too, trafficking of persons has become one of the biggest crimes, recognized by many countries.

What challenges do you currently face in your work to prevent trafficking and to rescue and rehabilitate survivors of trafficking?

The clandestine nature of human trafficking continues to make it difficult to prevent and rescue potential victims. Traffickers constantly use new methods of trafficking, and new forms of trafficking have emerged and tackling this is even more difficult. Since traffickers are into organized crime, it is a big challenge to overcome them. The staff of Maiti Nepal has been facing death threats.

Survivors’ needs are complex and multiple. Many survivors come back home in a traumatized state, the prevalence of STDs and HIV among them is also quite high, some survivors are infected by Multiple Drug Resistance Tuberculosis due to this, rehabilitation is difficult and complicated.

In-spite of being globally recognized, getting funds for anti-trafficking projects continues to be extremely difficult. 

Please consider supporting the Fund for Grassroots Activism to End Sex Trafficking by making a contribution to Equality Now.

For more information about Maiti Nepal please visit: www.maitinepal.org.