NEPAL: Care and Support for Survivors of Trafficking and Abuse
Care and Support for Survivors of
Trafficking and Abuse
An estimated 12,000 girls under the age of 18 are trafficked into India from Nepal every year, while thousands more are trafficked within the country for forced sex work and other forms of exploitation. The large-scale migration of Nepal’s population from rural areas to city centers and across the border to India has made trafficking a serious human rights crisis. Families living in the impoverished countryside are often complicit in the trafficking of their daughters, while adult women may be coerced into forced sex work through false promises of jobs or marriage across the Indian border or in other parts of South Asia.
Survivors of trafficking who manage to return home must cope with severe physical and mental trauma, may be HIV-positive, and are often rejected by their families and communities. Tens of thousands of women and girls in Nepal have also experienced other forms of abuse, including domestic violence. These experiences can create similar mental and physical health needs, and can render survivors more vulnerable to trafficking and/or exploitation, if they are on their own without family support.
While many local shelters provide support and housing, HealthRight International found that most survivors of trafficking lack adequate access to medical care for conditions ranging from malnutrition and tuberculosis to sexually transmitted infections and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Starting in 2004, in partnership with Planete Enfants, ABC Nepal, Saathi, and the Nepali Social Welfare Council, HealthRight established a program to increase access to medical and psychological services for survivors of trafficking and other forms of abuse. By working closely with local partners and health providers to develop an effective, sustainable system for services, HealthRight’s project is a model of care across Nepal in offering rights-based, comprehensive services for survivors of physical and sexual violence.
Improving the Capacity and Quality of Services
In collaboration with local partners, HealthRight has set up clinics at shelters for survivors of trafficking to provide a full range of medical and psychological services. In addition, HealthRight trains staff at the shelters to provide rights-based services that ensure women’s consent and respect their dignity and humanity. Based on the clinics’ success in providing care for survivors of trafficking and other forms of abuse, such as domestic violence, these health services have been extended to other vulnerable groups from the surrounding communities, including at-risk children and women.
Developing Effective Tools
To ensure a systematic and effective response from local health providers, HealthRight has developed guidelines, protocols, and monitoring tools to assist with training staff and providing quality services. These standard operating procedures have been translated into Nepali and have been disseminated throughout the country and region, furthering the impact and scope of HealthRight’s human rights-based approach to caring for survivors of violence.
Expanding Opportunities for Survivors
Women and girls who have experience rape, violence, and other forms of trauma are at greater risk of being trafficked, including those who have already survived trafficking. Through its partnership with local shelters, HealthRight has instituted a vocational training program to provide women with opportunities for sustainable employment and stable lives beyond the shelter. As part of this process, HealthRight has facilitated the formal training of women as community health workers, and is now monitoring clients’ training, job searches, and progress in finding employment.