The US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, honoured a Nepalese anti-trafficking hero, Charimaya Tamang, on Monday 27th June 2011 at the Benjamin Franklin room in Washington DC.
Tamang was awarded the 2011 Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award. The celebration of her achievements coincided with the release of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, at the US State Department.
The introduction to Ms Tamang’s award given by the US State Department read as follows:
“Born into a poor family made poorer by the passing of her father, Charimaya Tamang was 16 when she was trafficked to India. She spent 22 months enslaved in a brothel before the Indian government rescued her and more than 200 other Nepali women in 1996. Upon her return to Nepal, Ms. Tamang faced social stigma and was outcast from her own community. But she courageously filed a case against her traffickers, becoming the first person to file personally a trafficking case with the district police. In 1997, the District Court – in a landmark decision – convicted and sentenced eight offenders involved in her case.
“In 2000, Ms. Tamang and 15 other survivors established Shakti Sumaha, an anti-trafficking NGO. She received a national honor for her work in 2007 and is currently one of two trafficking survivors serving as members of the government-led National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, which was founded in 2009. In that role, Ms. Tamang raised the importance of including survivors in each district-level working group. There are now five trafficking survivors serving as members of district-level committees around the country.”
Ten TIP Heroes from around the world were recognised for their efforts in combating human trafficking.
The 11th Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, stated that Nepal has continued to improve efforts to combat human trafficking despite limited resources, but pointed out that the government is yet to fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
“While the Government of Nepal established the Central Crime Investigative Bureau’s special unit to investigate trafficking and increased its direct financial support for protection services in Nepal and abroad, the lack of proactive victim identification was cited in the report as a persistent serious problem,” said a statement from the US Embassy in Kathmandu.
Recommendations for Nepal contained in the TIP Report include; increased law enforcement efforts against all types of trafficking and against government officials who are found to be complicit in trafficking; the establishment of a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to protection services; the promotion of legal awareness programs to potential trafficking victims and government officials.
The US government has been supporting various initiatives to combat human trafficking in Nepal, including a five-year project funded by USAID that will strengthen protection services for TIP survivors; build capacity of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce legal measures and increase prosecution of TIP-related cases, and prevent trafficking by building awareness among groups that are vulnerable to sex and labour trafficking.