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U.S. Recognizes three Nepali Heroes who fight Trafficking in Nepal

 June 5, 2008       नेपालीमा

On Wednesday, June 4th, 2008 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice released the eighth annual Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report. In this year’s report, three Nepalis - Bhim Lama, Ganesh Shrestha, and Kumar Giri - of the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation Rescue Team, are honored as heroes in combating trafficking.

There is no change in the designation of Nepal as a Tier 2 country reflecting the country’s efforts and challenges in eliminating trafficking in 2007. The complete Nepal chapter of the new Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report (attached) notes a growing internal child sex tourism problem in Nepal, but credits the government of Nepal with the enactment of the comprehensive Trafficking in Persons and Transportation (Control) Act in 2007.

In Fiscal Year 2007, the U.S. Government spent approximately $79 million to fund 180 projects in about 90 countries to support foreign government and NGO efforts to combat human trafficking. Since Fiscal Year 2001, the USG has funded more than $528 million for anti-TIP projects outside the United States. Moreover, U.S. Government efforts to promote the rule of law and economic reforms in many countries help reduce the conditions which facilitate trafficking.

This year's Trafficking in Persons Report features 170 countries and is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons, a modern-day form of slavery. Its findings are intended to raise global awareness and spur countries to take effective actions to counter trafficking in persons. The United States estimates that each year, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries. Human trafficking victims can be subjected to labor exploitation or sexual exploitation, or both.

This year's report includes a particular focus on issues related to forced labor - an issue germane to Nepal. This form of modern-day slavery, involving millions of people every year, continues to be a problem in nearly every country in the world and traffickers continue to search for new opportunities to exploit men, women, and children.

The crime of human trafficking adversely affects us all. It deprives people of their most basic human rights and freedoms, it poses a public health risk, and it is a major source of illicit revenue for organized crime. It is a problem that can't be ignored by any of us in the world community. To that end, the U.S. is proud to be able to recognize the extraordinary efforts of these three Nepali Heroes.

Bhim Lama, Ganesh Shrestha, and Kumar Giri are being recognized for their work in rescuing over 280 Nepali Children from Indian circuses. Amidst threats of beatings and intimidation, the trio made over 40 rescue missions into Indian circuses to liberate Nepali girls and boys from lives of misery. Most of the children were trafficked at the age of 8 or 9, although some were as young as 5 when they were sold off. Professional agents tricked their impoverished and illiterate parents into handing them over to the circus for just a few dollars. In reality, they were handing over their children to a life of malnourishment, harsh training schedules and vicious beatings by the circus staff. Frequently the girls were also sexually assaulted.

The full text of the Report and photos of human trafficking themes are available on the State Department's website, http://www.state.gov/g/tip. The three Nepali heroes are part of the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation Rescue Team whose work saving Nepali trafficking victims is featured on the Foundation’s website at http://www.ebtrust.org.uk/site/pact.htm# The Nepal chapter of the Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, in English and in Nepali, may be found at http://nepal.usembassy.gov .

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