In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday, April 25, International Justice Mission’s (IJM) staff in Kolkata warns of the potential for increased vulnerability to human trafficking due to a lack of security and resources like food, water, and shelter.
“Many people are now homeless, and girls will be lured to leave, believing Nepal is now prone to disaster,” says Moumita Khati, a social worker for IJM. “Disasters tend to make people more vulnerable to trafficking.”
Quoting UNICEF, IJM informs that as many as 7,000 women and girls are trafficked from Nepal to India every year, and around 200,000 are now working in Indian brothels.
The United Nations estimates that Nepal is one of Asia’s poorest nations, with unemployment over 40% and per capita GDP of just $1,000.
International Justice Mission, a global human rights organization, says it works to rescue victims of sex trafficking and other forms of everyday violence, restore survivors and transform broken justice systems and has partnered with several aftercare homes in Nepal.
“The road to recovery will be very long, and we encourage local officials in Nepal and the bordering nation of India to protect the scores of children and young women who are particularly vulnerable to violence like trafficking and sexual exploitation,” says Saju Mathew, IJM’s VP of Operations in South Asia.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, IJM Kolkata staff activated an emergency evacuation plan and began attempts to make contact with 34 women – two IJM social workers and 32 young women who had been rescued from Indian brothels who are now living back home in Nepal. IJM has confirmed that all the women are safe.