Child trafficking fears in Nepal after earthquake | ActionAid UK

Concerns are being raised about trafficking gangs luring children and young girls made homeless by the earthquake in Nepal with the promise of jobs in India and beyond. All too often these young people can end up in appalling conditions, tied into a life of hard labour or exploitative sex work. 

A young Nepali girl stands amidst the ruins caused by the earthquake in Kathmandu.
A young Nepali girl stands amidst the ruins caused by the earthquake in Kathmandu. Girls made homeless by the earthquake are vulnerable to being trafficked into brothels

Nepal has a strong tradition of migration for work but also a serious trafficking problem. Some estimates suggest as many as 15,000 young women are trafficked every year into brothel work in India.

No child wants to leave their family and education to go and work in a foreign country. No parent wants to send their child away. Few young women in traditional societies want to take the risk of leaving the communities they know. Poverty and vulnerability drives people into this, it’s a solution of desperation.  

Nepal earthquake has hit the poor hardest

The earthquake in Nepal has hit the poor hardest, destroying homes, schools and livelihoods in some of the country's poorest and most remote areas. When even the little hope you have for the future has gone, promises of a better future are tempting.

We have to respond to the immediate problem arising from the earthquake, but also the long-term underlying causes. 

For ActionAid this means providing information and safe spaces for women and children in the worst affected areas, protecting people from threats to their well-being and helping them cope with the shock and trauma of the event. 

It also means helping communities recover quickly, rebuilding homes and schools destroyed and helping people not only re-establish their livelihoods and businesses, but giving them a chance to make those enterprises even stronger than before.

This should reduce poverty in the affected areas, making less tempting the illusory offers of the traffickers.

What is ActionAid doing to stop trafficking in Nepal?

ActionAid has a long history of working with anti-trafficking groups in Nepal. From this we know there are strong voices in Nepalese society that can combat this threat.

We know too that Nepal has good laws in place, and at this time in particular we call on the Government of Nepal to enforce this legislation effectively and humanely, criminalising not those who seek a better future but those who exploit and harm the vulnerable.

How can you help?

The best way to help people - including young children and girls at risk of trafficking - in Nepal right now is to donate to our emergency appeal. We are on the ground with communities helping them rebuild their lives. Your donation will go to the people who need it most.