By Satoshi Matsui
Three years have passed since roughly 9,000 people died in a massive earthquake in Nepal. In the aftermath of the disaster with no way to earn money, there has been no end to cases of women and children falling victim to human trafficking across the Indian border.
"I was locked in a dark room all day, and there were days where I would be forced to service 20 people. I wasn't allowed to even see the light of the sun, and I thought about dying over and over again," a 24-year-old Nepali woman who fell victim to trafficking and was forced into prostitution for roughly nine months in New Delhi said in a quivering voice. She was rescued by a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in May 2017.
The woman comes from the eastern part of Nepal. The farm where she lived and worked was destroyed by the April 2015 earthquake, and she lost her job. She worked as a cook at a hotel after that, but once rent was deducted from her monthly paycheck, she was only left with 500 Nepalese rupees (approximately 510 yen) to buy food.
With few options, a male acquaintance told her that he knew of a safe job in India where she could make money, and she crossed the border in a bus accompanied by the man. But where they eventually arrived was a brothel in New Delhi.
"They watched me carefully and I couldn't escape," she said. "There are many women who are suffering in the same conditions."
According to Indian authorities, the number of Nepali victims rescued on the border rose to 336 in 2015, the year of the quake, while there had only been 33 cases the previous year. In 2016, that number further grew to 501, and ballooned to 607 people in 2017. The majority of those who have been rescued are women aged 16 or younger, and many of them were about to be sold into prostitution.
The Nepali government is also taking countermeasures against the alarming trend, and has already saved roughly 13,600 people before they could fall victim to human trafficking during the 2016 fiscal year.
"The overall number of cases of human trafficking is growing," said Santosh Sedhai, head of investigations for NGO Rescue Foundation, which is leading efforts to save victims. "The traffickers have already thought of how to escape capture." Concerning the present conditions in Nepal three years after the deadly quake, he added, "The tourism industry has recovered, but there are many victims still struggling to make a living. Support for victims and economic growth are important issues."
Published on The Mainichi on April 29, 2018
Slavery in Your Shopping Cart and Retirement Account
There is slavery in every shopping mall in America. From clothing to computers, coffee to cell phones—a wide range of consumer products are tainted by slavery.
Slaves in sweatshops are forced to manufacture household goods. Child slaves are forced to harvest commodities and raw materials under brutal conditions in mines and on plantations.
Our retirement accounts grow on the backs of slaves when portfolio managers invest in companies that are tainted by slavery. That’s how slavery flows through the global supply chain and into our lives—economics and profit drive modern slavery.
Everyone can help remove slavery from our lives—business leaders, investors, and consumers.
Creating Slavery-free Commerce
Helping Businesses See Slavery
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Becoming a Slavery-Free Business is intended to…
Be a Conscientious Consumer
Free the Slaves is a partner in the Know the Chain initiative, which investigates corporate compliance with a groundbreaking law in California that requires major companies to investigate and disclose slavery in their products. By visiting the Know the Chain website, you can learn if the places you shop are taking a stand against slavery.
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Source: Free the Slaves
Human Rights First welcomes today’s introduction of The Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017 in the Senate. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators Cornyn (R-TX), Grassley (R-IA), Feinstein (D-CA), Klobuchar (D-MN), and Corker (R-TN) reauthorizes critical domestic anti-human trafficking programs from the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and strengthens the U.S. government’s approach to combating trafficking by designating a human trafficking prosecutor in every judicial district across the United States. Human Rights First applauds the broad support for this legislation and commends the original cosponsors, Senators Corker (R-TN), Brown (D-OH), Heller (R-NV), Wyden (D-OR), Rubio (R-FL), Coons (D-DE), Hatch (R-UT), and Burr (R-NC) for advancing the fight again human trafficking. The organization calls for speedy passage of the bill so anti-trafficking programs have the resources they need to combat address this problem.
“Without adequate resources to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases, perpetrators operate with near impunity, exploiting vulnerable people for both labor and sex trafficking across the United States. This bill will significantly increase the ability of the U.S. government and law enforcement to combat this pervasive crime,” said Human Rights First’s Amy Sobel. “We strongly urge Congress to support this critical legislation and ensure its swift passage.”
The TVPA outlines the U.S. government’s response to human trafficking both at home and abroad. Congress has reauthorized the TVPA four times since it was initially passed into law, in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013. The current authorizations expire at the end of September.
A provision in the bill would designate a prosecutor in U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country. These Human Trafficking Justice Coordinators would be responsible for ensuring increased exploration of all potential cases of human trafficking and would improve the ability of these offices to bring traffickers to justice in more complex cases. The designated prosecutors would improve expertise nationwide on how to successfully apply anti-trafficking statutes to gain convictions, as well as cultivate partnerships between government officials at all levels and service providers that are key to rooting out and prosecuting cases of trafficking. These prosecutors would additionally be responsible for collecting restitution for victims, who rarely receive what they are owed.
Human Rights First notes that holding traffickers accountable can be challenging as trafficking cases can be difficult to identify, investigate, and prosecute, and therefore only a small fraction of reported cases are prosecuted. In 2015, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 24,757 reports, yet only 297 convictions were secured in the United States. More complex cases—such as those involving labor trafficking—are especially difficult to identify and can necessitate more interagency coordination requiring additional time and resources. Labor trafficking cases represented only two percent of human trafficking convictions in the United States in 2015, while service providers reported that 48 percent of their clients were trafficked for labor.
“We know that collaboration across all levels of government can exponentially increase accountability for traffickers,” said Sobel. “In districts where there is interagency coordination between representatives from the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor, the number of human trafficking cases filed has increased 119 percent. Adding designated prosecutors will foster such collaboration, as well as ensure that best practices for identification, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of victims are utilized around the country.”
Other critical provisions in The Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017 include strengthening efforts to investigate and prosecute those who knowingly financially benefit from human trafficking, such as hotels that are complicit in human trafficking operations, adding additional reporting requirements to the attorney general’s annual report to Congress, and establishing on a permanent basis the U.S. Survivor Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.
Published on Human Rights First on June 7, 2017.