The Indian government has decided to give one of its highest awards to Anuradha Koirala, a Nepali woman who has rescued hundreds of women from prostitution and human trafficking.
India’s Republic Day, the authorities announced the names of the winners of the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth highest civilian award. Anuradha Koirala is first foreigner to receive this honour.
Reacting to the news, the activist said, “I’m really happy that the efforts of our organisation have been recognised in India, which is still the largest ‘consumer’ of women and girls from Nepal.”
On its Twitter account, the Indian embassy in Kathmandu reads, “Awarded for her exemplary Social Work, Dijju Anuradha Koirala is the only foreigner to be bestowed Padma Shri Award 2017.
In 1993, she founded Maiti Nepal, a non-profit organisation that helps victims sex trafficking. According to the Association, each year at least 5,000 Nepali girls and women are forced into prostitution in India and Arab countries.
“The first destination is India,” Anuradha Koirala explained, “but in recent years there has been an increase towards China, Africa and the Gulf countries.”
The reason that makes the prostitution market so flourishing in India “is that there is no need for a visa to cross the border between the two countries. In addition, Nepali girls have the same physical traits as Indian girls so it is difficult to distinguish them.”
In recent years, India has also increasingly become a transit point for young people on their way to exploitation in other countries.
“I think,” the activist noted, “it would be much easier to control human trafficking and save the girls if we worked with Indian support.”