Kelly McClelland is ER’s Director of Women’s Advocacy. She oversees Extreme Women, a program designed to empower women living in extreme conditions. Here she shares her experience of meeting human trafficking victims while working with ER partner KI Nepal last summer.
My work for ER includes advocating for women in extreme circumstances around the world. When I visited one of KI Nepal’s border crossing stations, the notion of extreme circumstances took on a whole new meaning for me.
KI Nepal works to fight human trafficking and violence against women – first by rescuing them from trafficking attempts at border crossings, then by equipping them with skills and knowledge to bring about positive holistic change.
Rescued girls are brought to KI Nepal’s temporary safe house. There they can file a report with local authorities and identify their trafficker(s). Then they can enter a resident safe house and begin the process of healing.
When I visited, I learned that five girls had been rescued from the hands of traffickers the previous day. I was asked if I would like to meet the girls, observe the counseling process and offer them a word of encouragement. Of course I said yes.
What I encountered were three girls, one with her head down, looking at her hands, the other two whispering and giggling. I guessed they were between 13 and 16 years old. I don’t know exactly what I expected to find, but it was not giggling girls. As I settled in, however, it soon became clear that those giggles were from nervousness. Girls are the same, no matter where they are in the world!
Eventually the shyness melted away and the girls warmly welcomed me. I was then invited into an inner office, where two more girls sat at a table with a pair of military inspectors and a KI Nepal counselor. These girls had begun the process of reporting their experience, which hopefully would result in their trafficker being prosecuted.
As I looked around, I saw a cell with a man inside. He had walked up to the cell door to see who had entered the room. It took some courage for me to look him in the eye. Not only was I meeting these precious victims, but right there was a trafficker, the man who was part of their nightmare. I felt an intense surge of anger as he smirked at me! Hanging on to the back of a chair, it took everything I had not to lash out at him.
Months later when I was back home, I had the opportunity to meet with a man who had been a trafficker. He had served a prison sentence in his home country, undergone a change of heart, and was now living in the U.S., where he shares his own story of life change.
My takeaway from these experiences is that human trafficking is a tragedy for everyone involved. Help is needed for both victim and trafficker to experience restoration and healing. I’ll keep doing my part, and I’m grateful for the amazing work that KI Nepal is doing.
Extreme Women wishes to see women around the world rescued from the horrible perils of human trafficking. Our goal is to see the girls restored, counsel them on their road to recovery, provide them with job training and life skills, and work to break the cycle of poverty in their lives. This task is quite large and we cannot do it alone. We are so grateful to work alongside our global partners. For more information on Extreme Women or how you can help stop human trafficking, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.