Human trafficking prevention a complex issue

Nepalgunj, January 2

Human trafficking preventive efforts have become more complicated and challenging with the advancement of time, as middlepersons are using information technology and means of communication to find their prey.

According to Maiti Nepal’s regional coordinator Keshab Koirala, middlepersons and human traffickers seem to be one step ahead of police and anti-trafficking organisations, thus making preventive efforts more complicated.

Over time, traffickers have changed their strategy and methods. They have also started hunting for potential victims within the relatively ‘affluent’ class. Besides, children are also their target group, not only women and girls from the poorest households and the vulnerable community as in the past.

With the help of advanced information technology, they contact their targets and persuade women and children to follow them across the border with false promises of lucrative jobs, the most common tactic.

Maiti Nepal regional office, Nepalgunj, in one year (2018), rescued 82  women and girls forced into labour and sex exploitation work from India,  Dubai of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

Besides, in the same period, 210 women and girls (from Banke); 110 ( Surkhet), 119 ( Dang) and 97 ( Dang), were the potential victims of trafficking, rescued from the  Nepal-India border points.

Women and girls of Karnali province and some districts in the Far-Western region seem more vulnerable to trafficking, he said.

Despite countless efforts by the government and non-government offices to control human trafficking, the expected result is still awaited.

“Besides lack of coordinated efforts, human  trafficking is still not treated as a political issue.  Moreover, lack of reliable structures from the government level is another reason that still obstructs effort to curb trafficking,” said Nepalgunj  Sub metropolis Deputy Mayor Uma Thapa  Magar.

Office statistics show the situation of trafficking in the two provinces. In the past one year, 920 women and girls (from these provinces) were made to return from the Nepal-India border points as they were en route to India and third countries.

Nepal’s law defines human trafficking as a crime of serious nature. A person convicted for human trafficking faces a 20-year-jail sentence along with fine of up to Rs 200,000. Similarly, a person involved in transporting a victim can face a 10-15-year jail sentence and a fine from 50,000 to Rs 100,000.

Despite strong legal measures to control the crime, in many cases, survivors are reluctant to knock on the court’s door because of the tardy process of getting justice, said advocate Basanta Gautam. “They prefer to settle the case outside court, instead,” he added.

The political connections of a perpetrator is one of the causes that influence human trafficking cases.

Koirala’s personal experience is that someone accused of the crime has some sort of political connection and once the prosecution of case begins, the exercise of power begins.

“Survivors and their family members get threats, are financially lured and stop the case, thus affecting the entire legal procedure,” Koirala said.