“Welcome to Nepal.” It was surreal to walk off the plane and see these signs letting us know that we were finally, after three days of travel, in Kathmandu, Nepal! We were in the country that we had talked about for almost a year and a half, and suddenly Nepal was not just a place on the map where we knew sex trafficking occurs; it was real, and we could see it with our own eyes. Our final flight from Delhi, India, was delayed by almost five hours because of fog, but it provided us with numerous blessings. Not only were we given a fantastic free breakfast buffet at the airport in Delhi, as a result of the extended layover, but we were forced to reschedule our meeting at the American Embassy in Nepal. This last part may not sound like much of a blessing, but because we were near the Embassy at the end of the work day, we bumped into the American Ambassador to Nepal and were able to tell him about the Red Thread Movement as well!
The highlight of our first day in country, however, was the meeting we had scheduled with the Human Rights/Trafficking in Persons Analyst at the American Embassy in Nepal. A few months ago, I had a chance meeting with the American Ambassador to Eritrea at my university in Texas, and when I told him that I was going to Nepal in January to address the sex trafficking there, he put me in touch with the analyst.
The contact recently became the TIP Analyst for Nepal in September of 2010. This year, he will write the Trafficking in Persons Report section for Nepal. The TIP Report is a large document, which U.S. law requires be put out each year by the U.S. Department of State. It tracks human trafficking around the world and provides specific reports detailing the prevention, protection and prosecution methods occurring within countries where significant human trafficking occurs.
Concerning sex trafficking, Nepal is considered a source country, meaning that women and girls are taken from Nepal to be sold into slavery elsewhere. Most often, the women and girls are sold into Indian brothels. As dictated by the TIP Reports, countries are assessed on a four-tier system: Tier One, Tier Two, Tier Two Watch List and Tier Three, with Tier One being the best. Since the reports began in 2001, Nepal has consistently been ranked as a Tier Two country, with the exception of 2005, when it received identification as a Tier One state. These rankings are given out by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC.
We were able to present the Red Thread Movement to the analyst and introduce him to the Nepalese man the Red Thread Movement works with in Nepal. He runs a non-governmental organization in Nepal that rescues girls on the Western border Nepal shares with India and rehabilitates some of these women and girls in safe houses. The analyst’s report for Nepal will reflect information he gathers from people within Nepal working to combat human trafficking, and these are often NGO contacts. At the conclusion of our meeting with the analyst, he agreed to travel with our contact in the upcoming months to visit the border units and safe houses KIN operates, in order to better understand and assess the situation in Nepal. This will give the United States’ Embassy in Nepal and the G/TIP in Washington, DC, access to more information about what is being done to combat sex trafficking in Nepal and the methods this NGO is effectively employing to rescue Nepalese girls on the border and rehabilitate them.
Immediately following the conclusion of our meeting with the analyst, we walked past the American Ambassador to Nepal. I had seen his picture online and recognized him, so I turned around and introduced myself and our group. He attended school in Minnesota, which is where I am from, so it was fun to make that connection in a country half way around the world! We gave him a press kit for the Red Thread Movement and talked with him for a few minutes about sex trafficking in Nepal.
All in all, today was a very long day of travel, but will remain one of the most greatly anticipated and informative days of my life. My dream is to one day work as a Trafficking in Persons Analyst for a U.S. Embassy, and it was incredibly exciting and unexpected to meet the person who currently occupies that position at the Embassy in Nepal. If you are interested in learning more about human trafficking, the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report is available online by entering it into a search engine. The next report will be issued this upcoming summer.