STOP Girl Trafficking
PREVENTION IS RESCUE WITHOUT SUFFERING
Over 20,000 girls are trafficked in Nepal every year. In 1997 the American Himalayan Foundation, in partnership with Dr. Aruna Uprety, created the STOP Girl Trafficking program. The strength of its approach is in its directness. The focus is on preventing girls from becoming young victims of their family's poverty and desperation by putting them in school, and weaving a safety net around each girl. Everything a girl needs to enroll in school is provided. Then they mentor her, and educate her family and community about the dangers of trafficking. With education as a vehicle, these girls are kept safe from trafficking.
For over 20 years, Dr. Aruna Uprety has been a prominent activist and advocate for women’s rights and education in Nepal. When she first traveled to the brothels of India, where over 100,000 Nepali girls are trapped, she saw firsthand the horrors that await young girls sold or lured by traffickers. Within two years the majority of them become HIV positive, and die by the age of 20. Those she spoke with told her over and over, "it is too late for us. If we had known anything, if we had been able to go to school and learn and work, we would never have landed here. Please, keep this from happening to other girls."
Dr. Uprety then made it her life’s work to protect and empower Nepal’s most vulnerable girls. Her partnership with the AHF was designed to transform counter-trafficking work by combining two powerful insights. The heartbreak of what she learned in India pushed her to focus on prevention; thereby breaking the cycle of trafficking and violence from the start. She pioneered the approach of getting poor, at-risk girls into school. In the beginning, she went door to door, village to village, to convince families that sending their girls to school was worthwhile.
The first year 52 girls in one district were enrolled in the program. Over the last 20 years, there have been over 23,000 girls served in over 500 schools throughout Nepal, with over 12,000 currently enrolled. Impressively, once enrolled, not a single girl has been lost to trafficking! The program is both simple and incredibly effective. Most surprisingly, it takes only $100 to keep a girl safe and in school for one year.
The early reluctance of parents to educate their girls has now dropped away, and whole villages are asking to be included in the program. They see that education provides the knowledge needed to keep traffickers at bay. These girls are motivated students, and pass their high school final exams at double the national average. Helping girls in a culture like this reaps real dividends as well. Each year, hundreds of them graduate as educated, independent young women, and each of them will help many others in return. Through education, girls are saved and a society is changed.
“Giving a girl a chance to be educated is giving a girl a new life”.
- Dr. Aruna Uprety
Photography and videos provided by the American Himalayan Foundation
Should you wish to make a direct donation to the program in addition to or instead of a Karma Mala purchase, please visit: http://www.himalayan-foundation.org/projects/girl-trafficking