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Increased media role sought to fight against modern-day slavery

2021 Mar 22, 18:30, Kathmandu
Members of Shakti Samuha pose for a photo in Kathmandu, on March 16, 2021. Photo: Shakti Samuha/Facebook

An interaction with mediapersons on "Role of media against modern-day slavery" was held in Kathmandu today under the Community-Led Action against Modern Slavery and Poverty (CLAMP) project, Shakti Samuha.

According to Shakti Samuha's legal advisor and training coordinator Dilip Koirala, the objective of the programme was to seek increased media role in making the State and the three-tier government - federal, provincial and local - more sensitive and responsible towards the modern-day slavery issues.

 As he said, just rescue of likely survivors and the survivors, and apprehending perpetrators are not enough to address the issue to its core. "Much awareness, broader media coverage and follow-up stories are necessary to stem this long-standing problem.''

There were reports that women were transported to India keeping them in containers even during the coronavirus lockdown and it suggested that women were always vulnerable to trafficking, he added.

He took time to urge the media to give more priority to issues concerning modern-day slavery and contribute to fight against it which as he said was also their social responsibility.

 Shakti Samuha's advisor and senior journalist Tanka Panta recalled the moment when a group of women (survivors of human trafficking) who were rescued from India in 1996 were looked down as disease-carriers and greeted unwelcomingly and with disdain back to their home.

At the time, 60-70 per cent of Nepali media were negative towards them, but now the trend has changed positively which was indeed a point to be noted. According to him, public awareness against human trafficking has increased and cases relating to this are getting media coverage. ''Forms of human trafficking have changed over the course of time.''

Giving a presentation on the role of media and human trafficking, journalist Pabitra Guragain pointed out the need for investigative reporting, training and orientation, beat specialization, and media houses according to much priority to deal with issues concerning human trafficking.

"Only legal justice is not sufficient for survivors to live a dignified life, they need social justice as well so that they could easily return to society and live a normal dignified life. Media are expected to advocate for social justice to the survivors of modern-day slavery.''

Other participants of the programme stressed the need for data and evidence on the issues and support from the state mechanism to make the media coverage credible and more effective.

Programme facilitator journalist Matrika Poudel said forms of modern-day slavery were varied and it was prevalent in every sector in the society.

Any behaviour which was against the consent of a woman was violence against woman and it could push the survivor to modern-day slavery, he said, highlighting the need of an extended discourse on human trafficking issues/modern-day slavery in the parliament.

CLAMP project manager Sarala Tamang spoke of the need for collective efforts among all stakeholders to combat human trafficking.

Shakti Samuha founder and chair Charimaya Tamang, who chaired the programme, described human trafficking as one of the dimensions of modern-slavery, underlining the need for realisation of its sensitivity by all including the media.

As she shared, human trafficking survivors, who are mostly girls and women, are socially stigmatised and as a result, survivors have not dared to break the silence and come forward. She thanked the media for what it has done so far in creating awareness on the issue, bringing the human trafficking cases to the public and establishing the identity of Shakti Samuha as the organisation dedicated to fighting against human trafficking and empowering the survivors.

Shakti Samuha, an organisation established by the survivors of human trafficking works against human trafficking since 1996.

Thirty-five people including 30 journalists participated in the interaction. 

Community-Led Action against Modern Slavery and Poverty CLAMP Role of media against modern-day slavery Modern slavery Shakti Samuha Dilip Koirala violence against woman VAW Charimaya Tamang
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