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Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepal is famous for its mountains, topping the world at 8,850m at the summit of Everest. Yet everything else operates at a much lower level. Nepal is the second poorest country in Asia after Afghanistan, and a high percentage of its population is vulnerable to human exploitation.

 

Nepal is the second poorest country in Asia after Afghanistan. That is not without a long list of reasons. The specter of its 10-year civil war that ended in 2006, the political instability that ensued, ongoing rampant corruption, difficult access to markets (exemplified by the just-lifted 5-month blockade at its border with India), make an environment that is barely conductive to business and investment.

And that is without considering the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake the country suffered on April 25th, 2015, that levelled almost half a million homes and affected 5.6 million people. ⊕ info

It is no surprise then that 1 in 5 Nepalis have left the country to find work abroad, often in situations that make them extremely vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and bonded labour. ⊕ info

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For those that remain, opportunities are few and far between. The average worker makes less than $4/day and unemployment is above 40%. Human exploitation, including sex trafficking, exists within its borders and, while pervasive, especially affects lower castes, people living with disease, certain religious groups and women — who are often treated as second-rate humans.

We were particularly disturbed to learn that Nepal is a major source of children subjected to sex trafficking. UNICEF estimates that 7,000 women and girls are trafficked to India alone every year. It is not uncommon for parents to regard “extra” children, particularly girls, as a liability. In some cases, parents sell their children. More commonly, parents or children are lured to “big city” opportunities that inevitably end under lock in brothels in cities like Kathmandu, Kolkata, Delhi or Mumbai. ⊕ info

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