Human Traffickers Exploit Nepal Quake Calamity

28 May 2015
THE earthquake tragedy of Nepal, apart from killing close to 10,000 and rendering destitute and homeless many more, has given a deadly boost to a heinous crime that has long plagued the region. Gangs of human traffickers have made the devastated country their happy hunting ground, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the survivors to target young women as well as girls and boys to supply to a network of brothels across South Asia. Girls not recruited into prostitution may be sold on as domestic slaves in India and boys are taken into forced labour.

Official Nepal Government radio messages are now being broadcast warning parents not to leave their children unguarded and to look out for suspicious people trying to talk to girls in the many camps that have suddenly emerged. At least 950,000 children in Nepal are in makeshift tents, on the streets or simply out of school and will not be able to return for months unless urgent action is taken, making it an ideal time for brokers to go in the name of relief to kidnap or lure young girls and boys.

Nepal's Department of Education has reported that 14,541 classrooms have been destroyed and 9,182 were damaged, totalling 23,723 who are affected. With all classrooms closed until May 29, in a country which in recent years has lost 200,000 girls to cross-border trafficking and exploitation, fears are now growing that children consigned to the streets or camps may be easy prey. It is reported that human traffickers in earthquake-ravaged Nepal can earn a minimum of Rs 30,000 for every girl or boy they supply.

Social workers — who estimate that in normal times about 7,000 to 15,000 girls and young women every year are trafficked across the long border into Indian brothels — are fearing a huge surge in numbers in the aftermath of the quake. The UN estimates 12,000 to 15,000 girls a year are trafficked from Nepal. With India being a key destination (and also transit) point for traffickers operating in Nepal, the Indian government, rather than throw its weight about and use the quake calamity to look for opportunities to fulfil its expansionist designs, should take strict measures to thwart at the boarders.
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