From Girl to Hero

img_2721-featured3It’s not every day that we get to meet a heroine like Pasang Lama Sherpa. A student at a public school on the Tibet-Nepal border, Pasang is in Class 7 and has just graduated from Her Turn’s workshop for girls. Like many border towns, Tatopani is a bustling city full of traffic and people moving back and forth. However, the chaos of the movement also hides the darker reality of the dangers that girls in Nepal face – human trafficking. As thousands of women and girls are trafficked every year into domestic work and forced prostitution, Nepal has become a huge center of human trafficking; recently more and more girls are being brought into and sold in China.

Pasang Lama and over a hundred of her fellow girl classmates recently finished Her Turn workshops, which cover a range of challenges that girls face in Nepal: puberty, nutrition, menstruation hygiene, trafficking, child marriage, and the low social status of girls across the country. Last week, Pasang was working in her mother’s shop when she saw six teenage girls and a woman she suspected was a part of a human trafficking ring:

“Our shop is right where a small path goes to an illegal border crossing. I was in the shop when I saw six girls, a man, and a woman, whom I had seen before. She was from Pokhara and was herself trafficked before and my brother helped her return to Nepal. But now she also brings girls across the border from her village. When I saw her with these girls I thought that she was also trafficking them. I told my mom about this woman and tried to call a local trafficking organization but their phone was off. I then went to the police, who said it wasn’t their job to do anything because it was someone else’s work. I then went to my brother and told him what I had saw. He crossed the border to look for them and found two of them. The traffickers had told the girls that they were taking them to work in people’s houses where they would be paid and hosted. My brother told them what it was really like for girls and about the people who often lie to them. The girls then asked to return with my brother; so he brought them back and they returned to their village… I knew what to do because of what I learned in Her Turn’s workshops. I knew to call the organization and tell the police. When that didn’t work I went to my brother and we were able to do something together.”

Pasang Lama wants to be a Police officer in the future so that she can help stop the trafficking of women: “I don’t want to work just in my community. Trafficking is a problem all over Nepal and so I should go everywhere to stop it.” Pasang’s example proves that girls are not just the victims of trafficking but can also be the solution. Even when other systems failed to work, Pasang’s determination, persistence and quick thinking acted to rescue two girls from a very dark future.

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge what Pasang and her brother have done. Share her story and feel free to write us a letter that we can pass on.

The world needs more heroes like Pasang and her brother.

For more information on trafficking in Nepal and globally please see:
Wikipedia: Human trafficking in Nepal
Wikipedia: Human trafficking
The Guardian: Nepal struggles to contain human trafficking problem, 8 May 2013
Republica: 51 girls rescued from flesh trade in Khasa, 28 April, 2013
The 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, US Department of State