‘Asha’* is 16 and lives in Kathmandu with her mother. Her father had two wives and five children.
Asha’s family were very poor. Having married for the second time, her father neglected Asha and her mother. He went abroad to find foreign employment but did not provide a single penny to them. Her mother took care of her and three of her brothers. She studied until eighth grade but could not continue due to financial problems. Her mother could not afford to support her education either, so Asha quit her studies and started working at a restaurant and bar as a dancer. At her workplace, she faced sexual exploitation and verbal abuse.
Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic growth of massage parlours, dance bars, cabin restaurants, and guesthouses in Kathmandu. Working in this sector is generally hazardous for children, and many of these workplaces have become a front for commercial sex. The Freedom Fund’s central Nepal hotspot is working to end the exploitation of children in the adult entertainment sector.
Outreach officers from Freedom Fund partner Change Nepal found Asha during their field visits. Change Nepal is a nonprofit that provides services to survivors and victims of trafficking through education, counselling, skills training, health-care and human rights awareness. After coming into contact with the organisation and getting to know the staff, Asha visited the organisation regularly. She began to take part in the various services offered by Change Nepal.
She felt motivated and she came up with an idea to start up her own cafeteria during the counselling sessions. She left her job at the restaurant and with support from Change Nepal, started to work towards her dream. Change Nepal supported her with a cart, kitchen utensils and grocery items to start up the cart business. Now she invests $15 and earns a $21 profit daily. She has also started saving $290 per month.
She is happy and her mother also supports her business. She shares “Change Nepal changed my life.”
*Name has been changed to protect the survivor’s privacy.
Pictured: A Change Nepal community meeting (Asha is not pictured).
Our partners in central Nepal work to reduce the number of children at risk of commercial sexual exploitation in the adult entertainment industry. They’re helping to prevent children from entering the industry, remove children from situations of exploitation and ending their recruitment. Find out more about our work in central Nepal here.