Charimaya Tamang: It's not just a personal achievement for me. I would like to see this award as a recognition of the hard work we have all put to save thousands of women from being trafficked. In this regard, it is also an honour bestowed by the US government on Nepal.
How closely is this award related to your own living experience?
In July 1996, seven organisations in Nepal rescued 128 women including me from Indian brothels. Five months later, I filed a complaint against the person who sold me. My family separated from me because of the death threats that followed. When I look back at what I have gone through, this award feels like it makes up for all the hardships I had to face.
Why are so many women trafficked every year?
The main reason is the state of lawlessness and impunity in the couintry. The state has not even been able to prosecute a known perpetrator who has lured young women from their own village and sold them off in Indian brothels. Besides this, there is a lack of awareness among the young women, especially in the countryside, about the serious threat they face, so much so that even educated graduates become victim of trafficking.
Where else are the women trafficked besides India?
In the recent years, women have been lured into foreign employment and sold in the Gulf countries. When they try to run away, there have been incidents where they have been subjected to brutal torture. Some have been trapped in fake case and put behind bars. Many have committed suicide.
What needs to be done to put a stop to trafficking?
There is no overnight solution. A multi-pronged approach: implementation of international conventions against human trafficking along with extensive campaign against trafficking throughout the country must be conducted. Anti-trafficking laws and programs have to be made a part of the academic curriculum and discrimination against the victim of trafficking has to end. Only then can we hope for a trafficking-free society in future.