Rescuing Nepal´s Children from Exploitation

August 15, 2013

We have heard their stories—and they´re true.

Deceived but well-meaning parents who hand their Nepali daughter or son over to a smooth-talking stranger who promises payment to the family and a better life for the child. A runaway teen flees abuse at home and finds herself in the clutches of an opportunistic predator. Hungry street kids beguiled by bowls of rice who are forced to perform hard labor in South Asia mines or factories.

These are innocent victims whose “crime” is the life circumstances they were born into—desperate poverty, abandonment, homelessness. With no awareness of the dangers around them, they become easy targets for exploitation.

Child trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry in Nepal. Every year some 7,000 to 10,000 Nepalese girls are taken across the border into India and sold against their will into prostitution. Others are sold into the Middle East or Southeast Asia commercial sex trade. Some of the girls are as young as nine years old.

Pimps take advantage of unsuspecting Nepali families, promising to take their daughters to a large city or even another country where they can receive good wages for work as domestics. In some cases a man may visit a village and identify himself as a successful businessman who is looking for a wife. Flattered and in need of money, the parents of an attractive teenage girl may view this offer as one they cannot refuse.

Boys are not safe either. They, too, may be sold into prostitution rings or placed into a circus where they work long hours with meager pay. They are lured by the dazzling descriptions of performing before crowds, earning a regular wage, and receiving an education. Some families have sold their children to circus traffickers for 1,000 rupees ($13 U.S.).

By the time these youth discover the reality of their situation, it is already too late. Far from home and without resources, they have no one to turn to for help. Sadly, many parents never hear from their children again.

“The Lord gave me a burden for these vulnerable children and their families,” said a Christian Aid partner who operates a girls´ rescue ministry in Nepal. “I want to warn them of the dangers. At the same time, I see their need for hope and their desperate environment.”

Trafficking was such a problem in her own city of Hetauda that this compassionate believer decided to do something about it. Along with her husband and an assistant, they organized a program 14 years ago to educate villagers about the tactics traffickers use to snare children. Other women joined their team and received training to instruct more groups of people.

“If I had not been a believer, I could have been misled into prostitution myself. I am grateful to God that He spared me from such a miserable fate, and then chose me to work among my own people,” the ministry leader said. “My vision is not only to warn, educate, feed, or give shelter, but also to share the gospel with them.”

When young women are removed from months or even years of abuse, they need a helping hand to resume “normal life.” Emotional adjustment becomes more challenging when some try to return home only to face rejection by their families. Many are uneducated and lack job skills.

The ministry offers a vocational training program that prepares these women for employment in tailoring, weaving, and jewelry-making. They also receive counseling and participate in Bible studies.