Feisty to the core
She might seem too frail and unassuming at first glance, but Charimaya Tamang is someone who has worked long and hard days since the past several years — just for the sake of bettering other lives. Tamang, honoured with the 2011 Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award in Washington DC by none other than US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, modestly claims that the recognition has encouraged her in her move to fight human trafficking and injustice against Nepali women. “If we all work together and move forward, we can eliminate human trafficking,” she says.
True to her forgiving and large-hearted nature, Tamang credits all Nepali women for the award. “This award is not my personal recognition but the recognition of the efforts made by all Nepali people working to end human trafficking. It is the pride of all Nepalis,” she says. “This honour also testifies that hard work and perseverance pays in the long run,” she adds.
Tamang , a survivor of trafficking herself, was honoured with the award on June 27 in the US during the release of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report at the State Department in Washington. The 2011 TIP Report had noted, “Born into a poor family made poorer by the passing of her father, Charimaya Tamang was 16 when she was trafficked to India. She spent 22 months enslaved in a brothel before the Indian government rescued her and more than 200 other Nepali women in 1996. Upon her return to Nepal, Tamang faced social stigma and was outcast from her own community. But she courageously filed a case against her traffickers, becoming the first person to file personally a trafficking case with the district police. In 1997, the District Court — in a landmark decision — convicted and sentenced eight offenders involved in her case.”
In 2000, Tamang and 15 other survivors established Shakti Samuha, an anti-trafficking NGO. She received a national honour for her work in 2007 and is currently one of the two trafficking survivors serving as members of the government-led National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, which was founded in 2009.