School for Justice- education survivors SEC Nepal

by Free a Girl
School for Justice- education survivors SEC Nepal

The School for Justice in Nepal

With the School for Justice, Free a Girl supports girls change the system from within. We are very proud of the progress of the girls attending the program! They want to end the sexual exploitation of children by becoming empowered and playing an active role in the fight. Students become human rights professionals such as lawyers, paralegals, public prosecutors, journalists, counsellors and policewomen, so they can change the system from within. This program received international recognition and was mentioned in a UN report ‘as an innovative model of social inclusion’.

The story of Usha: a successful graduate!

Usha is a survivor of sexual exploitation as a child. She joined the School for Justice when we first started the program in Nepal. We are happy to announce that Usha graduated the School for Justice program in 2022. Through the support of Free a Girl she followed a university masters and interned at a law firm. The law firm was so impressed that they decided to hire her as a full time employee. As a change agent, she now supports several cases that help victims of terrible crimes.

 

The overall results of the School for Justice to date

80 students enrolled for university and vocational training in pursuit of justice!

A total of 80 students have so far participated in the School for Justice programme in Nepal of which 31 successfully finished the programme and 49 students are currently active in the programme. The current group consists of 19 university students plus 30 vocational students following the paralegal programme’. All 30 paralegals passed their theoretical exams and almost finished their internships.

60 paralegal students

In 2021, the first batch of 30 survivors finished their paralegal program. Currently, a new enthusiastic batch of 30 paralegals embarked this exiting journey. During their internships, as well as learning a great deal themselves, they provide unique, accessible and support at various police stations to thousands of women and children who want to report crimes; support that would otherwise be provided by men as an external service, and that would also cost money.

19 university students following the university track

The 19 students on the university track are increasingly taking initiative, and develop ideas about how to maximize their impact when tackling the problem of trafficking and sexual exploitation. We see that the counselling, coaching, media training and legal awareness trainingis bearing fruit.

 

All focus on empowerment and raising their voices for justice

In addition to their education, girls are actively involved in writing articles on the topic, joining campaigns and rallies, creating a victim referral platform, providing awareness training in schools and communities, and approaching various political, police and legal representatives to discuss the problem and how they can take responsibility for it.

Involvement of parents: important steps forward

One of initial challenges faced by the School for Justice was how to involve families in the program. Although family support is extremely important, many families no longer accepted their children due to stigma. In some cases, the students did not share their stories of exploitation for this very reason. However, after receiving the necessary counselling, several students decided to improve the contact with their parents over the years; a great step forward!

 

Fighting for justice: change agents

One of the recent highlights of the program is that one of the university students found a job at a law firm and will fight for justice in this wonderful capacity! Without a doubt, she has become a real change agent. She is extremely happy with the support she has received from the program, and we are so proud of how she has dealt with all the challenges she faced. She is also a great source of support to others in the School for Justice.

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Que the Pomp and Circumstance, we’ve got a graduation to celebrate! We are so proud to announce that three of our School for Justice students just successfully completed their studies. Shila, Kamana and Trisha finished their high school studies, and will now continue with their Bachelor of Laws. We cannot overstate what an achievement this is for these three girls. It takes an incredible amount of strength to survive a situation of sexual exploitation (SEC), or to grow up in an environment where a risk of SEC is omnipresent. To not only survive but take matters into their own hands and become change agents that challenge their society’s status quo is the kind of bravery that inspires.  

Just listen to what the young graduates have to say!  

Shila: ‘My future plan is to be a voice for women who are exploited and oppressed. I want to bring justice to my society by giving legal support to women who were exploited in the sex trade.’  

Kamana: “I plan to study law and use my position as lawyer to speak up against violence against women in society. I plan to seek justice for women who were sexually exploited. 

Trisha: “My future plan? To become a successful lawyer and develop relevant knowledge of the justice system to contribute to a safer world for women.” 

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Double impact

The good news keeps coming and yet so much more to do. The new 2022 batch of 30 paralegals has started and completed their theory and have since last month started their practical placements where their theory will be applied in real life. In Nepal it is very difficult to file police reports for thousands of girls and women as it is not only costly, there are also only men to receive their report.

Our paralegals therefore form a unique group of young women providing safe and easy access to justice providing support in filing reports, and they do it for free. How great to see the double impact of this training as while they support others the paralegals are increasing their own knowledge and experience thereby expanding their impact as change agents, fighting to stop children from being sexually exploited and helping those whose rights are violated to get justice!

The university track students are also increasingly taking responsibility over their own life and…. that of vulnerable children at risk of being trafficked and sexually exploited. They come up with their own initiatives already, suggesting how children can be best reached to warn them for trafficking and make sure they are protected. While continuing to become professionals in the fight against sexual exploitation of children they are already making the world a better place! 

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We have amazing news to share. 30 legals and paralegals from SFJ Nepal have completed the theory and practical part (internship) and therefore most of them have almost completed the School for Justice trajectory. 

Within the School For Justice trajectory internships are included. The girls were interning at the Police offices and for example helping thousands of women and girls helping with filing a report. With this, helping with reporting a file, the SFJ students removed high barriers for these women to file a report. Some of them will also start working at the police stations untill the new paralegals will start. Others are inspired to continue studying with a new university track. 

The girls are the Change Agents who are working hard to change the system of impunity and human trafficking from within. We are very proud of them! These girls have the power to change! Together we can do so much more in the fight against sexual exploitation. 

On behalf of the girls and the Free a Girl team, thank you so much for making this possible! 

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My name is Shrijana* and I am the eldest of three children. I was 15 years when I fell victim to sexual exploitation. My father is a farmer and my mother is a homemaker. We moved to a different city, because my parents wanted me to go to a better school. In this new city, it was more difficult to make ends meet. When I was growing up, there was one boy in our neighbourhood whom I fell in love with. He said that he found a good job for me and that I would earn enough money to provide for my family. He told me to meet a manager of a restaurant and they told me that I was going to start working as a waitress. The restaurant manager gave me the job. Unfortunately, after a month, he commanded me to go and attain the guests at the restaurants. They used to treat me like a doll and if I didn’t agree they threatened me. I had to have sex with the customers against my will. I did it for one year, because of the fear and because of the money I could give my family. Fortunately, I came in contact with an NGO and learned that I was sexually exploited. I attended their program and I could stay in a safehouse. I was mentally and physically unwell when I escaped from that restaurant. I received psychosocial counselling and medical health. After about 2 to 3 weeks, I could return home. I have completed 10th grade and I study law to become a strong independent woman who works for justice!

 

* For safety reasons, we use pseudonyms.

 

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