The commercial exploitation of children in the adult entertainment industry has been a pervasive issue in central Nepal for years. Through debt bondage schemes, minors are made to work in dance bars and massage parlours, and young girls are pressured to provide sexual services to older male customers. These minors are often forced to take drugs, work late hours and drink alcohol. In 2015, the Freedom Fund launched a hotspot in Kathmandu to tackle this issue. The hotspot has provided an opportunity for collaboration between frontline partners, including how they collectively respond to emergency situations.
One recent example of such a collaborative response began with Freedom Fund partner Shakti-Samuha, an organisation run by trafficking survivors that provides shelter, counselling, legal aid and vocational training to individuals experiencing exploitation. In 2019, Shakti-Samuha was alerted that an adult entertainment sector worker was being sexually abused by a politically well-connected customer and reached out to the ERT for help. The ERT, a collaborative body established in 2018 by many Freedom Fund partners, provides immediate support in instances of emergency rescue operations and prosecutions. The ERT then contacted CeLLRD, the Freedom Fund’s legal partner in central Nepal, and both organisations jointly visited the police station on behalf of the victim. Following this visit, the ERT worked to prevent the perpetrator from turning hostile, whilst CeLRRD guided the survivor through the extensive legal process. Through the collaboration of these three groups, the survivor was able to receive protection from the perpetrators’ threats and attain psychosocial support and legal aid. The perpetrator was ultimately convicted of sexual offences and charged with over three years of jail time.
This case is a great example of the incredible collaborative work that the Freedom Fund’s hotspot model facilitates. The hotspot provides survivors with a platform to seek the vital support and resources needed to exit exploitative situations. Furthermore, the legal initiatives undertaken in the hotspot ensure that perpetrators face repercussions and set a powerful example of the consequences for offenders. The wider impact incurred by the partners’ efforts are illustrated in the Freedom Fund’s 2019 Central Nepal Hotspot report. Fundamentally, the hotspot serves as a reminder for how impactful the joint efforts of the Freedom Fund’s partners are and emphasise the potential for progress in tackling commercial sexual exploitation.
The Freedom Fund’s central Nepal hotspot serves to eradicate the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Frontline partners work to provide a multitude of resources ranging from legal aid to emergency response to victims in order to prevent and support cases of sexual exploitation.