Nepal is home to 29 million people, with children younger than 15 years old making up more than 40% of the population. It includes ethnic and caste groups with distinct cultures and languages. More than one in three people in Nepal live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1 per day. After years of continuous turmoil, the political situation in Nepal is still unstable with frequent strikes that regularly paralyse the economy. Children are especially vulnerable. Gender and social discrimination deepens the vulnerability of girls and dalits. Many children face violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking. In Nepal adolescent girls identify sexual harassment in their communities and in schools as the biggest concern in their lives.
Child trafficking and migration in Nepal
Although Nepal has always been a source for trafficking, the recent earthquakes have increased the vulnerability of children and women multi-fold. In the aftermath of the earthquakes trafficking of children increased, both internally and to India. The Nepali government has expressed its concern about trafficking incidences, as they expect the numbers to further increase as a result of declining economic and livelihood opportunities, infrastructural damage, and accompanied increased vulnerability of marginalised families.
Terre des Hommes addresses the issue of unsafe migration in Sindhupalchok and Dolakha districts of Nepal. The programme aims at reaching the hard core target group of children either migrated along with their parents or left alone in source areas and/or moved alone in search of employment or trafficked, specially overseas. The rights of these targeted children/ adolescents will be honoured through accessing Government services. The model established in terms of mitigating unsafe/distress migration in source areas, enhancing the skills for better employments for dignity of labour, mainstreaming in education sector for reduction of vulnerability in source and destination areas will be helpful in replicating in other parts of the country. Prosecution of traffickers is also planned in Nepal. The Government machinery is involved for better collaboration in all possible ways for improving the needed services to the targeted children & their families and also in ensuring sustainability.
Sexual exploitation of children in Nepal
Child sexual abuse and exploitation is a serious challenge for any society, but particularly for Nepal where cases are rarely reported and often kept undercover. The growth of sex-tourism, including traveling child sex offenders, has been increasingly noted in Nepal, catering primarily to demand from foreign tourists, mostly from India and Europe. Though prostitution is illegal in Nepal it is prevalent in urban areas, and as many as 12,000 young girls are trafficked to brothels within the country and in India. Beyond traditional forms of child sex tourism, child sex offender in Nepal also sexually exploit children by setting up shelters or so-called “orphanages” which serve as a venue to easily sexually exploit children under their care.
Terre des Hommes programme covers eight touristic locations in all four sides of the country to safeguard children from potential vulnerabilities through comprehensive interventions. These interventions are a combination of prevention, service delivery to victims of sexual exploitation, lobby and advocacy and prosecution of perpetrators. For prevention of such abuses, interventions such as awareness to highly vulnerable communities, sensitisation of relevant stakeholders in tourism industry, and mass awareness through radio channels are planned. Identified/ referred victims will be supported with psycho-social care, shelter, medical and legal assistances. Close coordination and necessary capacity building to law enforcement officials will be extended for speedy prosecution of offenders. Continuous engagement with Government officials will bring out new schemes/ policies for combating sexual exploitation of children.