Human Trafficking Exit & Healing – Nepa

It is important to note that Aura Freedom does not participate in “rescue industry” activities. We meet survivors where they are, recognizing their diverse backgrounds, stories, and choices. We also refute the patriarchal ‘victim narrative’ that has a limited view of what trafficking and trafficked persons look like.

Our Human Trafficking Exit & Healing program in Nepal works on the front line in the fight against modern slavery, helping liberate and rehabilitating Survivors of human trafficking through our agents and partners, Maiti Nepal.

The program encompasses the entire exit and rehabilitation process, including:
-Investigation of missing girl or woman
-Brothel visit (if necessary)
-Repatriation of Survivor
-Rehabilitation of Survivor – physical, emotional and spiritual- this rehabilitation includes sustainable empowerment programs and vocational training for Survivors run by Survivors themselves – training includes sewing, handicraft making, farming, gardening, cooking, dancing, computer-based courses and more
-Basic education of Survivors and their children
-Awareness campaigns in rural communities in high-risk areas for human trafficking and border patrol at high-risk checkpoints – all facilitated by Survivors themselves
-Conviction of trafficker

The Empowerment of Survivors of gender-based violence is our passion, and we believe that these women and girls can still contribute beautiful things to society. Aura Freedom conducts Empowerment Programs with Survivors which increase their self-worth, confidence and remind Survivors just how amazing they all are. After leaving the sex trade is when new life begins, and we believe that empowered and educated Survivors are some of the most powerful weapons we can use in the fight against human trafficking.

Our country agents, Maiti Nepal, have been working tirelessly for over 20 years, fighting human trafficking and slavery on every level. Its founder, CNN Hero Anuradha Koirala, and her team have changed the lives of thousands of girls; patrolling borders, raiding brothels, rehabilitating the broken and orphaned, even changing the way the police are trained in Nepal. We are honoured to have Anuradha and Maiti Nepal as our partners.

Female Friendly Spaces in Post-Quake Nepal

Post-Earthquake Protection, Education and Empowerment for Women

THE PROBLEM

Gender-based violence increases in emergencies because of the displacement of communities, absence of law and order, lack of adequate basic services, and the breakdown of social support networks. As a result, females of all ages need protection, support, and access to services in emergencies. Those from marginalized communities are increasingly vulnerable. 8,000,000 people were affected by the earthquakes in Nepal and 40,000 are females were at immediate risk of violence.

THE PROJECT

This project provides a roving Female Friendly Space (FFS) which travels to various post-earthquake camps in Nepal where women and girls can go to report incidences of violence, seek services, be referred to medical or trauma counselling, attend awareness workshops and feel safe. The FFS also provides activities for children and temporary shelter for women and girls. In emergency situations, violence against women and girls increases drastically, as well as harmful practices such as child marriage.

The roving FFS will bring awareness to the growing problem of gender-based violence within the camps through workshops and activities for women and children, an awareness campaign directed at all camp residents, and theatrical performances that shed light on violence against women. The space also serves a 24-hour place of protection and referral agency with gender-trained staff who refer females of all ages to health, legal and other services available to them through our collaboration with Apeiron Nepal, local Police and other local NGOs.

Each FFS targets the entire camp community, with a focus on women and girls. It decreases the risk of gender-based violence in the camps and increases access to services for female survivors of violence. It also reduces the stigma associated with sexual violence by providing females with human rights awareness and support, and by providing the whole camp community with education. Providing women and girls with education and access to services will empower them to protect themselves. Educating communities will reduce violence and bring awareness to human rights abuses like child and forced marriage.

Check out “CAMP SISTERHOOD”, a stunning photographic look at the FFS project in action. Photos by Mandy Glinsbockel.

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Outreach, Knowledge, Change – Nepal

Advancing gender equality through information, education, access to services and access to justice for women and girls in Dhading, Nepal.

THE PROBLEM

Aura Freedom’s Female Friendly Space (FFS) project in response to last year’s earthquake in Nepal saw tremendous success. While the state of emergency in Nepal has ended, having now entered the transitional recovery phase, things are hardly back to “normal” and there continues to be exacerbation of existing patriarchal issues.

These deeply rooted ideals that view women and girls as lesser beings have resulted in ongoing violence and oppression, making them exceptionally vulnerable to such crimes as child marriage, rape, and human trafficking. This also significantly increases rates of unwanted and early pregnancies, STIs, and reproductive health complications. Despite the time that has passed, we are still dealing with families who have lost everything to the earthquake and continue to experience shortages of food and water, in addition to lacking adequate shelter, all of which increases the vulnerability of girls and women to trafficking.

THE PROJECT

After having previously witnessed such life-altering change on a daily basis, we knew our work had to continue. As a result, we have launched a powerful Outreach program targeting gender-based violence (GBV), gender disparity, and lack of access to services for women and girls, expanding our reach into new communities where GBV is rampant, and access to services and education are much needed.

Entitled Outreach, Knowledge, Change, the program provides education, access to services, and life skills in a safe space where vulnerable women and girls can go to report incidences of violence, seek services, attend educational workshops, obtain identification documents through vital registration, learn skills, and feel supported. It also serves as a roving referral agency that refers females of all ages to health, legal, and other services available to them through our collaboration with local NGOs, Police, and other government agencies. Our core project staff have all received specific training on gender, equity and equality, gender-based violence, the survivor-centered approach, and group counselling, and are all well-known within the communities.

Aura Freedom is a firm believer in the power of knowledge and education. As such, this project aims to address the issues of GBV, gender disparity, and social discrimination through a variety of daily awareness sessions and related activities. These include:

  • Human and legal rights awareness
  • GBV, rape, and violence against women awareness
  • Harmful cultural practices, social discrimination, and gender equality awareness
  • Health, hygiene, and family planning awareness (including reproductive and menstrual health)
  • Adolescent mentorship program using socially and physically interactive activities
  • Confidence building
  • Training of GBV Watch Groups, which act as advocates for keeping their communities safe

The program’s daily activities are limited to girls and women only, as we aim to foster an environment of sisterhood. However, Aura Freedom recognizes the importance of including boys and men in the conversation on gender equality. Therefore, community-wide awareness sessions will be held once a month to also expose males to this crucial information, increasing their awareness of women’s rights and the gender disparity in their own communities. Despite the existing patriarchy, our FFS data showed a significant increase in knowledge of gender-based violence and human rights, awareness of gender disparity, and a positive shift in attitudes towards gender equality in both males and females. These results clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of including males among project participants to create positive social change.

THE RESULTS

In providing ongoing education and information dissemination in a safe space, girls and women will experience an increased awareness of their rights and the services available to them. With this knowledge, they become empowered, more likely to report incidences of violence and reclaim ownership of their lives. Furthermore, when entire communities learn of not only the prevalence of gender disparity, but its associated repercussions for both females and the communities at large, the cycle of violence and gender inequality can be broken. Education is absolutely critical for achieving this.

Aura Freedom is thrilled to have the ongoing support of Canada’s Global Affairs in our fight against gender-based violence and gender inequality in support of the world’s most vulnerable girls and women.