How a small team of actors are thwarting the work of traffickers in Nepal.
Adesha, is being propositioned by a young man. He has wooed her for a while now and has promised to whisk her away to a better life. The 13 year-old girl is sorely tempted; she lives with her overworked stepmother in a remote village and has few prospects. The young man promises her a wonderful future away from her current home in Nepal.
A crowd has assembled in a circle around the couple and are listening intently as Adesha accepts the proposition. Some of the children are pointing their mobile phones at the scene to take a picture. Many of them can guess how this tragic tale is going to end.
They are watching a street drama that has been laid on for their village. Agra, like Adesha’s fictional home, is a remote area in Nepal. But word has got out about the planned performance and people have travelled several miles through the mountainous terrain to join the crowd as the story unfolds.
The young man promptly takes Adesha to Mumbai in India where he sells her into the sex trade. Adesha contracts HIV/AIDS and eventually returns to her home village. But this is not a retelling of The Prodigal Son; Adesha is completely rejected by her family when she returns home and abused by her step-mother.
In their own way these dramas are every bit as lifesaving as emergency food and shelter
It’s a tragic ending and deliberately so; this is the sort of fate meted out to thousands of Nepalis, especially women and girls. Many are trafficked to Kathmandu or outside of Nepal to India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Dubai and forced to become prostitutes. Others become domestic servants, factory workers or brick-kiln workers.
Tearfund and Child Welfare Society have organised a street drama programme for this region of Nepal. The story is being performed by local actors throughout remote communities. Street drama is a popular medium for raising awareness on key issues; many people are illiterate and often they only speak regional languages, so leaflets and textbooks are little use.
The audience are transfixed by the story and by the end the key messages have clearly hit home; ‘If such a person encounters or lures us then we should not believe them and should not accept what they offer for us,’ says 18 year-old Alisha. ‘We learnt that HIV/AIDS is not transferred by touching and we should not discriminate those people,’ added her sister Sajita.
Street dramas can help to raise awareness about domestic violence, child labour, HIV/AIDS and trafficking. The community are able to relate to the characters and their roles, visualise the scenarios and apply them to their own lives.
Tearfund and local partner Child Welfare Society have conducted 18 street dramas so far with around 1,500 community members attending. The performances have covered various topics depending on what the key issues are in the communities. In conjunction with the dramas, Tearfund is working with local leaders to improve the local trafficking mechanism so it is easier and safer for community members to report it.
The earthquakes of April 2015 and its aftershocks have led to fears of increased trafficking, as the traffickers prey upon vulnerable people, many of whom have lost their shelters and livelihoods. However once a village understands the wiles of the traffickers they are more alert to the dangers of their empty promises. In their own way these simple dramas are every bit as lifesaving as the emergency food and shelter that was distributed following the quakes.
The names of the girls have been changed for their safety.
- For the Child Welfare Society to reach as many of these remote communities as possible and alert them to the deceptive tactics used by traffickers.
- That villages hearing these messages would be better able to stand up to traffickers.
- That traffickers will be thwarted in their work throughout Nepal and beyond.