”Each instance of human trafficking takes a common toll; each crime is an affront to the basic ideals of human dignity, inflicting grievous harm on individuals, as well as on their families and communities. Yet, if it were possible to hold human trafficking up to a light like a prism, each facet would reflect a different version of the crime, distinct in context but the same in essence. Together they would show the vast and varied array of methods traffickers use to compel adults and children of all genders, education levels, nationalities, and immigration statuses into service in both licit and illicit sectors. Traffickers may be family members, recruiters, employers, or strangers who exploit vulnerability and circumstance to coerce victims to engage in commercial sex or deceive them into forced labor. They commit these crimes through schemes that take victims hundreds of miles away from their homes or in the same neighborhoods where they were born.”
“The trafficking of girls from Nepal into India for forced prostitution is perhaps one of the busiest slave trafficking routes anywhere in the world, with estimated 5,000-10,000 Nepali women and girls trafficked to India each year. An estimated 100,000-200,000 Nepali trafficked persons are in India. Nepali girls are especially desirable as prostitutes in India because they are considered more attractive due to their lighter skin color, and because Nepali virgins are believed to be able to cure AIDS.”
– Human Trafficking in Nepal – Wikipedia
How it started
Out of Ashes, a charitable non-profit organization was started in order to fight human trafficking in Nepal, India and Burma. In February 2009, Håkan Gabrielsson visited two Badi villages in western Nepal together with Raju Sundas, the leader of Lighthouse Foundation Nepal (LHFN) a local NGO in Kathmandu. There they met many women and children and saw their extreme poverty and social vulnerability. They realized that most of the girls and women, if not all, within a few years would be abused and sexually exploited. Because of the caste system, poverty and their cultural background they have no real chance in life, but are born into slavery of being sexually abused. It was sickening to hear stories of rape, coercion, exploitation and the selling of young girls, and realize that this ethnic group from birth was bound to this life. The question arose; what could be done to stop this exploitation? And the thought of starting a Girls’ Homes to save some was born.
Many people responded to the need and funds was raised to begin the first Girls Safe Home, which was subsequently started with thirty girls at Christmas 2009.
LHFN is a Nepalese NGO (Non Government Organization) approved and registered with the Nepal Government for work with education and health-care among the poor and orphans in the country. They are our co-workers and the real heroes in this fight against injustice and exploitation.
How has the work progressed?
In the five years since the work against trafficking started, LHFN have received a number of partner organisations that are now working together with LHFN and the work has had an explosive growth since the first home was started. At the time of writing, there are now ten homes that are maintained with more than 500 girls rescued from a life worse than any of us can imagine.
The work consists of both preventive means, for girls as young as five years from becoming a victims, and of saving the girls who are already sexually abused and slaves in brothels . The vision is to create homes where girls can experience security, love and care, and where help can be given long term with education and vocational training creating jobs for them when they grow up. In this way, they can avoid being forced to be exploited sexually.
In February 2009, Håkan Gabrielsson from Out of Ashes (Singapore) visited two Badi villages in western Nepal together with Raju Sundas, the leader of Lighthouse Foundation Nepal (LHFN). In the villages they met many women and children and saw their extreme poverty, social misery and vulnerability. They realized that most girls and women, if not all, would within a few years be abused and sexually exploited. Because of the caste system, poverty, and their cultural background they are often designated to a life of slavery and easily become victims of sexual abuse. It was horrible to hear stories of rape, coercion and exploitation and to realize that this ethnic group from birth was destined to this life.
The question arose, what could be done to stop this exploitation and rescue the girls from the sex trade? The answer was to start the first Badi Girls Home, which took place in December 2009 in the capital of Kathmandu. There the girls can grow up in a safe environment and receive care and education. This is how the work to save girls from trafficking was born.
LHFN is a Nepalese NGO (non-government non-profit organization) approved and registered with the Government of Nepal for work with education and health care among the poor and vulnerable children in the country. LHFN is engaged in fighting injustice and sexual exploitation, especially among the Badi people in Nepal.
In the six years since the work started, LHFN have received several partners in several countries. Apart from Out of Ashes, LHFN also partners with a number of International organizations. The work has had an explosive growth since the first home was started. Today there are 680 girls and boys staying at the homes. Some have been rescued directly out of the brothels, others come from poor families and have been given a chance of a better life. 235 girls and 50 boys come from the Badi minority, the rest come from other people groups.
The work consists today of both preventive measures for girls and boys living in poor conditions or vulnerable to becoming victims, as well as direct rescue work from the brothels. The vision is to create Safe Homes where girls (and boys) can experience security, love and care, and where help can be provided with long-term education, vocational training, creating jobs for them when they grow up. In this way they can meet a better future.
“Research shows that educating girls is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do” – Girl Rising
To break the vicious circle of poverty and sexual exploitation of the Badi people and change their future, all the girls living in the girls’ homes in Kathmandu, receive a very fine education.
Light House Foundation opened in April 2012 Christian Community School in Kathmandu with the help of partners from Australia. Nepal’s Education Minister was present to inaugurate the school. It already has more than 800 students from grades 1 to 10, and it will gradually be expanded with more classes.