Our Stolen Children and Sisters: Nepal’s Shame

On Sunday June 26th, CNN aired powerful documentary Nepal’s Stolen Children, on human trafficking-especially trafficking of women and children. Hollywood actress Demi Moore’s journey to Nepal in search of answers on the country’s huge trafficking problem is featured in the documentary. CNN 2010 Hero Anuradha Koirala and her organization Maiti Nepal’s work is used as a background to highlight Nepal’s poverty and how its creates a cycle of desperation that has turned many women and girls into human trafficking targets.

The documentary, as I said in the introduction, is very powerful and emotional. Demi Moore comes off as sincere and affectionate. One scene where a trafficking survivor is re-united with her daughter is so emotionally charged, it reduces everyone to tears. You can see Moore genuinely distressed and touched. It is compelling and forceful, without any words spoken.

So, my heartfelt gratitude to CNN, Demi Moore and Anuradha Koirala for this documentary and showing the horrors of trafficking to the world.

Now to the not so rosy side of the documentary. As a Nepali, Nepal’s Stolen Children absolutely shamed me.  Anuradha Koirala’s work to end trafficking of Nepali women and girls makes me proud to be a Nepali; but the reality of trafficking makes me wonder about my country and our priorities.

Compare to the resources allocated to stop trafficking and help the survivors re-build their lives with the obscene amounts being spent on housing allowance and miscellaneous expense accounts allocated to the Constituent Assembly(CA) members. It is clear the Nepali government needs to wake up and define its priorities better, and the leaders need to grow a spine.How long can the country sell its daughters while the Ministers and CA members live a life of reckless abandon?

To add to the same of “Nepal is a human trafficking hub”; I came across some very unflattering comments about Anuradha Koirala and her work. The usual allegations of corruption and fund mismanagement.

Koirala is a huge public figure and people look up to her for leadership and inspiration. She should be held to a much higher standard of transparency and the laws regulating NGO’s and their funds should be applied with same rigor against Maiti Nepal as with any other NGO.But are the rules being applied fairly? Is Koirala being targeted because she has managed to get international following and recognition? Because a couple of weeks back a very damming report on Nepal’s orphanages came out in Republica Daily and the people behind these poorly run institutions do not face the same level of scrutiny as Maiti Nepal and Anuradha Koirala. There are hundreds of NGOs in Nepal who don’t do their work properly, why so much venom against Maiti Nepal which has actually managed to get the job done?

It is easy to brush aside all negative remarks against Anuradha Koirala as typical Nepali habit of back stabbing; but then that will give clean pass to all those engaged in this shameless practice. I would like to ask them, while they are busy entertaining themselves with rumors about Koirala (I have yet to read anything credible or official on the allegations of mismanagement), who is working to save our sisters and daughter from getting sold  to a brothel in Mumbai or Delhi? Certainly not them.

And there are those who say that the documentary and Koirala have shamed Nepal by exposing our dirty laundry to the world through international media. O well, isn’t that convenient! Where was your national pride when hundreds of girls are trafficked to India and the Gulf every year. Were you this angry when you read reports on Nepali women crying for help in Mumbai brothels or girls being sold by their own family members? Or is your national pride in hibernation when its comes to taking ownership of our problems but rises up when someone sees what a sorry bunch we are?

Nepal’s Stolen Children should be a wake up call for Nepal and all Nepalis. Lets take this as an opportunity to take ownership of own problems and rebuild our name. Don’t turn this into an issue of national pride.

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