Women hit by pandemic, domestic violence at high risk of traffickingTraffickers have been using the Jamunaha border in Banke to smuggle girls and women to India on the pretext of sending them abroad for jobs, anti-trafficking officials say.
A woman from Sindhupalchok district was rescued by the officials of Maiti Nepal, an social organisation working in the field of anti-human trafficking, in Nepalgunj, Banke on January 1.
The woman in her early forties was on her way to the Gulf country, as assured by her agent, through India. She learned that she was being sent abroad illegally only after she was rescued from Jamunaha border point.
“My husband has been rendered jobless by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now he has taken to alcohol. He idles away at the village drunk and comes home and beats me,” she said. “I have to live in poverty and violence. That’s why I decided to go for foreign employment.”
According to her, she came to Nepalgunj with an acquaintance expecting to go to India and fly to the Gulf country thereon.
But she did not have the necessary documents required to travel to a foreign country for employment. So was stopped at the border unit on suspicions of being a victim to human trafficking.
According to Maiti Nepal, she was rescued along with five other women while they were being smuggled into India.
Keshav Koirala, Nepalgunj coordinator of the organisation, said that human traffickers have been luring women hit hardest by the pandemic and gender-related violence.
A 35-year-old woman from Makwanpur district was also rescued on the same day. She was also running away from poverty after she separated with her husband. “My husband and I have separated. I could see no way I could make a living in the village so I decided to go abroad,” said the woman.
According to the Nepalgunj branch of Maiti Nepal, as many as 14 women who were heading to the Gulf country through India have been rescued from Jamunaha border point in the past two weeks. Eight women were rescued in January while six were rescued in the last week of December.
Most of the rescued women are from Sindhupalchok, Kavre, Makwanpur, Dhading, Bhojpur, Kapilvastu, Tanahun, Lamjung, Chitwan among other districts.
“The women who attempted to cross the border did not have any documents required for foreign employment. The women did not know where they were going,” said Koirala.
According to him, the rescued women, aged between 22 to 45 years, will be sent back to their families.
“The women and girls who are hugely affected due to the pandemic are at high risk of trafficking. Women who find themselves in a financial crisis are found taking risks to go abroad even illegally. But they don’t know the risks involved. Going to India to fly to a Gulf country without necessary documents is risky and they can become victims to human trafficking,” said Koirala.
Human traffickers have been using the Jamunha border to take the foreign job aspirants to India illegally. According to the data available at the Nepalgunj branch of the Maiti Nepal, a total of 267 India-bound women and girls were rescued in 2020 in suspicion of possible human trafficking.
“It is difficult to conduct a successful rescue operation once the victims have crossed the border. So we try our best to stop such incidents at the border” said Koirala.