Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected trafficking survivors: ReportThe report recommended the local governments address the impacts of Covid-19 on the livelihoods and physical and mental well-being of the trafficked survivors and returnee migrants.
Sobha (name changed), a survivor of sex trafficking from Jhapa district, used to run a small grocery shop in the district headquarters until the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.
When the government imposed a nationwide lockdown following the detection of a second Covid-19 case in March 2020, her business collapsed.
“The survivor not only lost her business due to a prolonged restriction imposed by the authorities, she also encountered multiple problems, including those of livelihood and physical and mental well-being,” said Chari Taya Tamang, founder of Shakti Samuha, an organisation that received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award-2013 in recognition of her efforts to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked young women.
“The Covid-19 pandemic affected most people but trafficking survivors have been affected disproportionately,” said Tamang.
A report of the study “A Systems-Based Analysis of the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Human Trafficking in Nepal", unveiled on Tuesday, also showed that the pandemic disproportionately affected trafficked survivors and returnee migrants.
During the study carried out in two bordering districts—Jhapa and Ilam, four workshops were held with trafficking survivors, 85 individual cases were analysed and 77 interviews conducted with government service providers, elected representatives and civil society members.
According to Tamang, Sobha, a 52-year-old diagnosed with cervical cancer, is bedridden. She was sold to a brothel in Calcutta of India at the age of 13 and rescued after two and a half years. She went to Kuwait in her late 30’s, but faced exploitation and torture again.
“The woman is also among the participants of the study,” said Tamang. “Most trafficked survivors have similar tales.”
The report recommended the local governments address the impacts of Covid-19 on the livelihoods and physical and mental well-being of the trafficked survivors and returnee migrants. The authorities need to prioritise them as the targeted groups for mainstream programmes.
It also recommended debt-relief interventions, awareness drives against trafficking and community-level interventions, targeting relevant community members.