According to data from the Human Development Index published by the UNDP approximately 44% of the Nepali population lives in poverty. Poverty, the weak education system and poor employment opportunities, particularly in rural communities, often lead children and women into being trafficked for sexual exploitation. Existing gender-based discrimination also undermines the availability of opportunities for girls and women to become empowered and economically active. This also makes them significantly vulnerable to violence, trafficking and sexual exploitation. It is estimated that 20% of the hundreds of thousands being sexually exploited in India every year were from Nepal.

*Source: ECPAT INTERNATIONAL, The commercial sexual exploitation of children in South Asia, 2014


The conflict between the Nepali government and Mao insurgents intensified poverty, and caused a breakdown of family and community networks, with women and children suffering the most dire consequences. During the period of political conflict several men and boys died or disappeared, which contributed to the increased pressure on young women and girls to support their family. Many young people felt forced to work in massage parlours and dance bars, which are often used as a facade for prostitution and exploitative activities.

Driven by poverty in rural areas, girls seeking a better future are especially vulnerable to traffickers. Many girls are lured or forced into prostitution by false promises of marriage or a well-paid job in India. Instead, they are sold to brothels in India or Nepal itself.

The earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015 destroyed many homes. Human traffickers targeted young women devastated by the earthquake. Traffickers duped devastated families that had lost their homes and breadwinners to hand over their children with the promise of a monthly salary and a good job in India.

Mina, 17 years old: “My dream is to prevent other girls from being sold into brothels, because life in there is worse than hell.”


Free a Girl supports a small organisation founded by girls who were once trafficked, who run two shelter homes, offering informal education, legal assistance, vocational training and support the repatriation process. We also support a large organisation who works throughout Nepal to end the trafficking of girls.

Shilpa 16 years old: “If we don’t  punish human traffickers we run the risk that other girls fall victim of this practice. We cannot let them run free.”