Shakti Samuha Honored by U.S. State Department
One of the UN.GIFT Small Grant Facility recipient organizations was recently honored by the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Shakti Samuha's founder member & current board member Mrs. Charimaya Tamnag (Anu) was awarded with the "2011 Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award" during the release of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, at the State Department in Washington on Monday, June 27, 2011.
Shakti Samuha is the first organization in Nepal to be established and run by survivors of trafficking.
In 1996, 500 girls and women were rescued from slavery in Indian brothels during widespread police raids. Among these were 148 Nepalese girls and women. These women were then locked away in remand homes in India, where conditions were as bad as - if not worse - than prison. The Nepalese government was reluctant to bring the women back to Nepal, claiming they would bring HIV into the country with them. In the absence of Government support, several NGOs took the lead in returning and rehabilitating the girls.
Sadly, even in these rehabilitation centers, the women's treatment did not help to restore their self-esteem and basic human rights. It was only after months had passed and the women were given training in their rights, that they realized they were not to blame for being trafficked. The women felt it was time to claim their rights so they set up Shakti Samuha.
Shakti Samuha began in 1996 and was registered in the Kathmandu District Office of HMG in 2000. Since 1996 they have been organizing and empowering returning trafficking survivors by providing shelter, legal aid, vocational training and counseling.
Shakti Samuha has also set up Adolescent Girls Groups based in the poorest communities in order to pass on the message about the dangers of trafficking. Now the organization is reaching out to rural districts where trafficking is prevalent, helping to keep women safe and make a united stand against the traffickers.