Caritas Nepal runs awareness-raising sessions so that people will be wary of fast-cash offers. Caritas also pays school fees for teenagers like this one, so that teenagers do not drop out of school. Dropouts are particularly vulnerable to traffickers. Credits: Laura Sheahen/Caritas

Caritas Nepal runs awareness-raising sessions so that people will be wary of fast-cash offers. Caritas also pays school fees for teenagers like this one, so that teenagers do not drop out of school. Dropouts are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.
Credits: Laura Sheahen/Caritas

What is human trafficking? 

Human trafficking is a crime in which traffickers deceive and recruit people, often across national borders, for the purpose of exploitation (forced labour, beggary, prostitution or removal of organs). Traffickers often lure impoverished victims with false promises of good jobs. When a person is working against their will, is not being paid, and is unable to leave–or if the conditions of their work are not regulated–they may be victims of trafficking.

Where is Nepal and what is happening in Nepal? 

Nepal is an extremely poor country on the northeast border with India. Due to poverty and lack of jobs, many Nepali people consider working abroad to earn money for their families.

What kinds of fake jobs are being offered? 

Unscrupulous employment agents in Nepal might offer teenage girls work as a housemaid, or offer to make them a movie star in India. Other agents offer men construction jobs in the Middle East or Malaysia. They offer married women jobs in the Middle East as maids.

At the border of Nepal and India, a sign warns young women that a man who offers them a job in another city may actually intend to sell them. At some borders, women who were former trafficking victims are now guards who monitor suspicious activities and try to protect young women. Credit: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas

At the border of Nepal and India, a sign warns young women that a man who offers them a job in another city may actually intend to sell them. At some borders, women who were former trafficking victims are now guards who monitor suspicious activities and try to protect young women.
Credit: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas

What happens to the people? 

Sometimes the overseas jobs go well, but sometimes poor people are tricked into situations where they are forced to work for free. Many Nepali men have suffered in abusive, poorly paid jobs overseas. Some Nepali women who work as maids for a family in the Middle East are beaten and raped by their employers. Thousands of Nepali women have been taken to India and forced into unpaid maid work or unpaid prostitution.

How is Caritas working to change the situation? 

Caritas Nepal runs awareness campaigns in remote areas to warn people about dubious job offers. Caritas pays school fees for teenagers who might be tempted or pressured to drop out of school to earn money for their families, and whose lack of experience makes them vulnerable to traffickers. Caritas gives small loans to mothers who were considering going abroad as housemaids; the women use the loans to start businesses like roadside tea shops.

What can I do to help? 

You can:

  1. Ask about the origin of things you plan to buy. Check out brands to see if they may be associated with slave labor practices; some brands have committed not to have slave labor in their supply chain.
  2. Promote training for potential migrants.
  3. Lobby your government to enforce anti-trafficking laws and fair labour laws for migrants.
  4. Talk to your community about trafficking.
  5. Pay attention to possible cases of trafficking and try to help victims. Be attentive at airports and borders.
  6. If you suspect a housemaid or other migrant worker is being abused, talk to the person privately and ask if they need help. Provide her with hotline numbers for relevant NGOs (they might have shelters or legal services for victims) or, if she agrees, contact the police.
  7. Lobby your government to ratify international conventions that defend rights of victims of trafficking, illegal migrants as well as decent work for domestic workers.
  8. Donate to Caritas’ safe migration or anti-trafficking programs.
  9. Pray for migrants who take jobs out of desperation and victims of trafficking.