The Great Impact of Nepal's Devastation


On 7 May, Prakala Ramtel sits on a piece of fallen timber outside her destroyed home, in Bilaune Danda Village in Sunaulo Bazar Village Development Committee (VDC) in Dhading District, 1 of 12 districts that have been severely affected by the massive earthquake. Photo credit: UNICEF

The impact of Nepal’s two recent earthquakes has far-reaching consequences, one of the most ghastly is human trafficking. The damage to the country’s infrastructure is being estimated at about $10 billion, a restoration project that may take several years to build. More than 5000 schools were destroyed during the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the 25th of April. Thousands more gave in to the second earthquake on May 12th.  UNICEF reports that the estimated death toll amounts to over 8000 people. Approximately 16,000 more have been injured and still thousands are unaccounted for. With trafficking already being a wide sweeping epidemic, the instability of women and children without proper resources and support of family puts them at greater risk.

Yearly, more than 20,000 women and girls in Nepal are being trafficked to be sold into the sex trade and domestic servitude.  The country’s trafficking pipeline is mostly routed to India, which is a little over 600 miles away and a large haven for trafficked victims. Nepalese women and girls are of great interest to the India's red-light districts which not only targets them for accessibility, but for their exoticness. In 2014, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) reports that globally women comprise 49% of trafficked persons while girls make up 21%. Yet it is not uncommon to locate girls as young as seven being prostituted and sold in India’s brothels.

Nepal's overall structure jeopardizes the most vulnerable of its citizens. For one, it's densely populated. Thirty percent of its people live in slums. Plus, it is considered one of the poorest nations in the world. According to the 2014 Global Gender Gap Index, Nepal is ranked 112 out of 142 countries for gender parity. Women and girls have less access to economic, education, and health resources. With 0 being for inequality and 1 for equality, there is even a lesser likelihood for political attainment which is ranked at a low .176. Those with fewer resources are at great risk of being trafficked or may participate in the trafficking of someone else because they may consider an opportunity to make money as a way to provide for their family.

On 16 May, Shanti Shrestha holds her 6-month-old daughter, Hiralaxmi Shrestha, atop her lap, outside a temporary shelter in Bhimeshwar Municipality, Dolakha District, the epicenter of the 12 May earthquake. Photo credit: UNICEF

The toll of the earthquakes' damage infringes on its citizens securityMiles of terrain has become uninhabitable. Consequently, people are displaced and living in camps. Due to the loss of thousands of people, some Nepalese citizens are without the aid of their families. A slimmer advantage for young women and girls to get an education or ability to feed themselves leaves them far more at risk to outsiders, who may take advantage of their desperation. Mistakenly, potential victims may perceive a proposal as an avenue for something better. Sometimes they fall prey to strangers who gain their trust with promises of work, or  they're seduced with possibilities for marriage.

Being said, there really is no way of telling just how many women and children are at risk of trafficking. Yet, with recent reports stating that one out of three Nepalese citizens without enough to eat, prior to the earthquake, the chances of Nepalese women and girls being trafficked is intense. This is a crucial time for international aid to direct their attention to Nepal’s devastating dilemma.

Join Women For Action members and watch a short film on Nepal's epidemic of human trafficking. Find out how one organization is putting matters in their own hands in the face of economic and political stability. Become a member for just $25.00 a year!

Other ways you can help:

  1. You can help UNICEF fulfill a mission to make sure children are being properly nourished in Nepal. Donate here.
  2. You can sign a petition to request that Nepalese immigrants are granted Temporary Protected Status due to Nepal being in disruptive conditions. This would protect nationals who are currently in the United States. The petition is aiming for 100,000 signatures and needs 10,000 to meet their goal. Sign here.

Julene Allen Julene Allen Author


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