Protecting children from trafficking
More than one million children are trafficked every year, some as young as five years old. Many are lured into servitude through promises of an education, and instead find themselves in brothels or indentured to abusive bosses in sweatshops, farms or mines. Impoverished parents sometimes agree to send their child away with a persuasive trafficker who promises their child a better life, and then they never see their child again.
Child trafficking is such an enormous and pervasive crime that fighting it requires policies, laws and cooperation at regional, national and international levels. But a lot can be done at the grassroots level too. Plan's programs help prevent trafficking by educating communities about its dangers, teaching children about their rights and rescuing victims of this horrendous crime.
Below are examples of our work in Nepal, where the sex-trafficking of girls is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Protecting Children in Nepal from Trafficking
In Nepal, an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 Nepalese children are trafficked across the border into India every year. Girls are especially vulnerable, with around 200,000 girls believed to be trapped in Indian brothels where they routinely face violence, intimidation, sexual assault and torture at the hands of brothel-owners, clients and even police.
Plan has been making strides against child trafficking in Nepal since 1996 with our FACT program – Fighting Against Child Trafficking. Working in the six districts identifed by the Nepalese government as most at risk, we are implementing a multi-pronged community-based approach that both rehabilitates victims of this heinous crime and works to prevent it.
Empowering Victims of Trafficking: Laxmi’s Story
Laxmi was 19 when Plan first met her. Kidnapped at the age of 15, smuggled across Nepal's border into India and sold to a brothel, she had just been freed from four years of forced prostitution. She had also just discovered that she was HIV positive.
Now, Laxmi is working with Plan to stop child trafficking in her own village. As vice president of the Makwanpur Women's Group, she helps counsel other vulnerable girls and raises awareness among children and adults in a Plan-sponsored program to end trafficking. Laxmi wanted Plan to tell her story to protect other children from suffering as she had. At first, painfully ashamed, she asked us to mask her identity – to call her "Sita." Today, however, having regained her place in society, she wants us to use her real name. "If my life story stops one child from being exploited the way I was" she says, "then it is worth telling."
Better Life Options Program (BLOP)
In 2010, 7,621 of girls and boys aged between 10 and 19 graduated from Plan’s nine-month Better Life Options (BLOP) Program where they learned about gender equity, child rights, reproductive health and sex education, HIV and AIDS, trafficking, child marriage, and other social issues and life skills.
As a result, there are decreased cases of child marriages, gender-based violence, trafficking of girls and school drop-outs, as well as an increased enrollment of girls in school. And in the districts of Nepalgunj, Makawanpur and Rautha, girls were so motivated by Plan’s nine-month BLOP program that they’ve started girls clubs on their own.
Information Booth and Vigilance Cabin: Stopping Traffickers in Their Tracks
Plan runs an information booth and “Vigilance Cabin” at the border between India and Nepal to stop trafficking, where thousands of children are illegally transported every year. Since it opened in 2009, our border monitors have briefed more than 7,000 Nepalese women and children about the dangers of crossing the border, and we have intercepted more than 1,300 girls who were at risk of being trafficked.
Support for those who have been rescued includes counseling, shelter, education and vocational training. These comprehensive services enable children and young adults to re-enter society and successfully rebuild their lives.
Learn more about Plan's child protection programs.