A beacon of hope
Anuradha didi never needed an introduction, especially in the Asian subcontinent. Her painstaking efforts since the last two decades to prevent child and women trafficking, rescue trafficked women and rehabilitate them through her organisation Maiti Nepal has always earned her kudos. The international world showed its full-fledged appreciation, too, by feting her as the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year. The event not only accorded her instant global recognition, but also highlighted her crusade that has already rescued and rehabilitated 12,000 Nepali women and girls from the Indian sex market across the border. Koirala, who receive USD 100,000 to continue her work with Maiti Nepal, in addition to the USD 25,000 awarded to each of the top 10 Heroes, says she will only stop her danger-fraught campaign when she can rest assured of the safety of all women. “I will be satisfied when Maiti Nepal will be closed”, she adds, and the date of the closure according to her, “will be the day when girl and women trafficking and domestic violence will be eradicated from the nation. This is possible, if everyone from the public to those in political leadership unite and start talking and working on social issues.”
Koirala, currently chairperson of the Maiti Nepal established in 1993, has been fighting against human trafficking for forced prostitution, rescuing flesh trade victims and rehabilitating them. The Maiti Nepal is a home for the victims of human trafficking especially poor Nepali girls and women, often sold to brothels in India, where they are repeatedly raped for profit, tortured, enslaved and placed at the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS virus.
A former school teacher, Koirala was inspired to join the field of social service due to her husband’s physical abuse, which left her wanting to help others in situation more helpless than hers. Koirala’s work is often dangerous and requires great personal sacrifice. The criminal elements that ‘deliver’ young girls are a ruthless enemy and have political connections at the highest levels in India and Nepal. Maiti Nepal’s main office in Kathmandu has been destroyed twice and Maiti workers must travel with a bodyguard when overseeing rescue missions in India. Koirala’s commitment has been an inspiration to her largely volunteer staff. Most of the workers are rescued girls and young women who are healthy enough to work. “They need little incentive from me,” states Koirala. “They are working to help their sisters and they know the horror of the victims.” She adds, “Society rejects me and my girls, but they are the most important thing in my life.”