18 September 2019

Women’s Vigilance Committees to prevent trafficking

Women living in Nepal’s poorest rural communities have suffered the most and the longest from the effects of the 2015 earthquake. The most vulnerable women and girls become victims of trafficking, and need support, care, awareness, resources and confidence for their safety. In response to the increase in VAWG and trafficking in the disaster-affected districts, Pragya worked with women’s groups to address the issue. 

Pragya carried out a scoping study on VAWG in rural Nepal with a particular focus on trafficking, examining the escalating risk that women and adolescent girls of rural families affected by the 2015 earthquake. 20 women’s protection groups and helplines were established in Nuwakot and Dhading districts by Pragya benefitting 202 women directly. 8 Women’s Vigilance Committees were formed in Nuwakot (in Thangsingh, Suryamati villages), each comprising 13-20 members. In Dhading district, two Women’s Vigilance Committees were formed in Gajuri and Gangajamuna after due consideration of vulnerable pockets. 

The Women’s Vigilance Committees were trained intensively by an expert with long experience on countering trafficking at the Nepal-India border. Inputs were provided on various forms of gender-based violence, surveillance of indicators for GBV and trafficking, case logging, effective psycho-social support to women to counter their vulnerability to trafficking and other gender-based violence, including preventive measures and provide safe spaces to them, and protect them from further harm. These committees have also been tasked with spreading awareness in the community on gender issues.

These Women’s Vigilance Committees were also provided with mobile phones to operate Women’s Helplines, and trained in the associated Protocols for assisting girls and women vulnerable to GBV or trafficking. The Helplines have been promoted in the area such that an estimated 505 women may be served by each Helpline. Linkages were provided with police and government departments as well as women’s protection centres in the districts, to enable them to alert these in case of trafficking.

Monthly support was provided to the Women's Groups and over one year 46 cases were reported to the Helplines set up by Pragya and acted upon by the women’s groups. Pragya continues to provide support to build the capacity of the helpline operators in effective psycho-social and support to women to counter their vulnerability to trafficking and other gender-based violence. 

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