The first-ever ‘School for Justice’ officially launched in Nepal to fight sexual exploitation of children
In an effort to support child survivors of sex trafficking to voice their demand for justice, celebrities and influential voices worldwide have joined hands with Free a Girl – an international not-for-profit that rescues girls from sexual exploitation - to launch the #VoiceForJustice campaign and create a wide ecosystem of strong supporting voices that will fight for the child survivors of sexual exploitation in their journey to demand justice. Today, Free a Girl is also officially opening its first ever School for Justice (SFJ) in Kathmandu, Nepal where every year more than 12,000 girls are trafficked. SFJ in Nepal will fight the injustice of child sexual exploitation by educating rescued girls to become lawyers, police officers, journalists and more to change the system from within. It is the third such educational programme worldwide, after the success of the first two in India.
With the power of social media, eminent personalities across the globe such as Padma Shri Anuradha Koirala (Nepali Social Activist), Sapna Bhavnani (Indian Celebrity Hairstylist), Nadia Murad (Iraqi Nobel Prize laureate, human rights activist), Mariane Pearl (French journalist), Famke Janssen (Hollywood actress) and many more, will be joining the #VoiceForJustice campaign and lending their voice to the cause.
Every year two million child victims are sexually exploited worldwide, the vast majority are girls, and less than 1% of the perpetrators gets convicted. The survivors of these horrific acts feel unable to report them due to feelings of shame, fear of reprisals and lack of faith in the legal system.
One of the students at the School for Justice in Nepal is Renuka, whose tragic story is sadly common. "My name is Renuka Sherpa. When I was 11 years old, I was raped by an old man. I cried a lot and it was painful, even walking hurt. Then I was raped by a neighbour and became a victim of sexual violence all over again. I ended up in a dance bar, where I was forced to satisfy the customers’ sexual desires. After two years I was rescued.
"At last I was safe. But I still felt deeply ashamed. Then I heard that child survivors in India can study at the School for Justice and that Free a Girl would be starting a school in Nepal as well. I want to become a public prosecutor or a judge, so that I can fight sexual exploitation of children and help other survivors to get their perpetrators behind bars."
Free a Girl wants women and men everywhere to raise their voice for justice with the #VoiceForJustice initiative, read Renuka’s testimony and empower her to make a formal legal complaint.
To commemorate the launch and rally supporters from Nepal and India in the fight to curb child sexual exploitation, Free a Girl hosted a virtual panel discussion, bringing together strong supporting voices including Bishwo Khadka (Chairperson, Maiti Nepal), Meenakshi Arora (Senior Counsel, Supreme Court of India), Tara Kaushal (author of the bestselling book ‘Why Men Rape’) and Pranaadhika Sinha Devburman (survivor & activist).
On the launch of School for Justice Nepal and the #VoiceForJustice campaign, Evelien Hölsken, Free a Girl founder, says: "We all need to speak up for the child survivors of sexual exploitation, so we are asking women all over the world to raise their voice for justice. Together we can fight for a better future and make sure that the perpetrators receive the justice they deserve. The problem is getting bigger by the day - so we need to take action, now."
About Free a Girl:
Free a Girl is dedicated to fight sexual exploitation of children and impunity. We rescued almost 5,000 minor girls worldwide in the past 12 years. As well as rescues, we focus on tackling impunity with our School for Justice programme. Free a Girl works with fourteen partner organizations in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Iraq, Laos, Nepal, the Netherlands, and Thailand. The organization has it’s own office in the Netherlands, the US and India.
Notes to editors:
For more about Free a Girl, go to: https://www.freeagirl.com/
For more about School for Justice, go to: https://www.freeagirl.com/how-we-work/special-programmes/school-for-justice/
For more information about the Voice for Justice campaign, go to: freeagirl.com/voiceforjustice
SOME SOURCE MATERIAL HERE
It is estimated that 99.1% of sexual violence cases in India, go unreported – According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2015-16 - https://www.livemint.com/Politics/AV3sIKoEBAGZozALMX8THK/99-cases-of-sexual-assaults-go-unreported-govt-data-shows.html
According to the UNICEF, it is estimated that as many as 200,000 Nepali women and girls are currently working in the Indian sex industry - https://asiafoundation.org/resources/pdfs/nepalsuccess1.pdf
According to the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) reports from 2009, there are an estimated 1.2 million children involved in prostitution in India - http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/11/india.prostitution.children/index.html?iref=24hours
In 2015, a total of 1658 cases of child trafficking were registered under the POCSO (Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences) Act 2012, of which 5003 were taken to trial, 384 completed trial and only 55 resulted in convictions. The conviction rate for CSEC cases in 2015 was 14.3% while that of case pendency stood at an unacceptably high 92%. https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/crime_in_india_table_additional_table_chapter_reports/Chapter%206A-15.11.16_2015.pdf (Check Page 5, under Disposal of Crimes Relating to Child Trafficking by Courts)
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