Border Monitoring in Action

Passion and Action Lead to Freedom!

She Didn’t Know

As She sits on a hot overcrowded bus the knots in Her stomach aren’t subsiding…  The border to India is in sight, but the holes in Her story are becoming more apparent.  Where did Her cousin say She was going to again?  Who is She supposed to meet?  The details are becoming more fuzzy, as Her nerves grow.

The bus comes to a halt when two strange women dressed in matching red uniforms step on board.  Within moments, the two women spot Her and make eye contact. Immediately, they ask Her to follow them off the bus.  Although She is confused, She’s not scared.  The confident grace that these women carry themselves with,  instantly calms Her.

The energy in this border town is hectic.  Rickshaws and tuk-tuks wiz past pedestrians without any regard for safety.  The dust that kicks up in their wake, creates a massive cloud that makes seeing clearly difficult. The sound of horns blowing, raised voices, and music blaring creates confusion for Her. In every direction people and live stock are milling around trying to avoid the dry oppressive heat.  Goats and cows search through the trash that lines the roads hoping for a morsel of food to sustain them.  She is experiencing a complete sensory overload; this environment is very different from the high mountains Her village is located in.

As they step into a little blue hut just off the road the questions begin….  Who is She?  Where is She going?  Where did She come from?  Why is She leaving?  Who will be on the other side?

As She answers these questions a grave look comes over the strange women’s faces.  The person who is waiting in India is a known trafficker, and if she leaves she will be enslaved.  She is offered a choice; either continue to India and risk eminent danger or  come to Kathmandu and find freedom.

Border Monitoring is the first line of defense protecting women from enslavement.

Border Monitoring Steps In

This story is a perfect example of what Border Monitoring looks like in an every day context. The border between Nepal and India is what is referred to as an “open border”.  This means that any Nepalese or Indian citizen can freely move fluidly back and fourth between countries. This can be beneficial for the people (for example, sometimes the markets are cheaper in India vs. Nepal) but this also leads to an increase of trafficking with Nepalese girls into India.  We have two Border Monitoring Stations, one is located in Dhangadhi, and the other in Krishnanagar.

Victims Becoming Warriors

Our success relies entirely on the shoulders of our Border Monitoring team.  We have a highly skilled staff who have devoted their lives towards bringing freedom to trafficking victims. Each station has a staff consisting of approximately 8 people.  Some of our staff are women who were at one point trafficking victims, but now are entirely committed to ending the travesty that they at one point had to endure.  With confidence and grace they operate in complete ownership of their roles.  Grateful and proud aren’t strong enough words to describe the way we feel about our fantastic staff.

How it works

The process of Border Monitoring is so simple in context that it can be difficult to image.  In Dhangadhi and Krishnanagar we have two small structures that create a large impact.  One structure looks like a cement garage, it has an open front that allows our staff to watch the traffic coming to and fro.  In contrast, our other structure is essentially a 8 X 8 blue metal hut.  Although different in structure, they are completely in line with the goals.

Within the community our staff is highly respected for the jobs that they do, and their reputation has awarded them with an authority that defies title.  When our staff walks up to a bus and demands a halt, the driver obeys.  Everyday our staff stops busses, cars, tuk-tuks, rickshaws, and individuals in an effort to prevent trafficking.  Strategic questions are asked, responses challenged, and thorough notes are taken.

When we come across a situation that look like it is potentially trafficking we are intentional to immediately separate the girls from their travel companions and begin interviewing both parties regarding their travels.  The inconsistencies, body language, and noticeable discomfort are all warning signs.  Once the final conclusion about the victims safety has been decided, we then do further research to see if she can be repatriated to her family or if she should go to our rescue home in Kathmandu. Often times in Nepal relatives will be involved in the trafficking of their sisters, daughters, nieces or cousins. That is deemed as unsafe to repatriate, so the girls are automatically sent to our Safe Home. 

We will do anything to achieve the goal of eradicating human trafficking.  Border Monitoring won’t work in every country, but we take pride in using the structure and culture of Nepal to our advantage.  Ending human trafficking means using innovative ways to strategically fight, a task that we embrace with unrelenting fervor. We won’t stop, and we beg you to join us in this war.

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Free for Life
Sarah Weeks
Sarah Weeks is the Art and Media Coordinator for Free for Life. Her heart has always been passionate about seeing social justice and equality for all people, which has led her to working with anti-human trafficking NGO's for the last 5 years in various asian countries. Sarah firmly believes with coffee in her hand, Beyonce' in her ears, and determination in her soul she can see a difference in the lives of human trafficking victims. View more posts by Sarah.