Advocating for Survivor Rights in Nepal
In an email interview, Delta 8.7 asked Sunita Danuwar, a Survivor Leader and founder of Shakti Samuha, about her organization and the role that data and evidence play in her work. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Delta 8.7: How did you start Shakti Samuha and how has its mission and programming changed since 1996?
Sunita Danuwar: Shakti Samuha was established following an incident in 1996, when 500 girls and women were rescued from sexual slavery in Indian brothels during widespread police raids. Of the 500 girls and women, 200 were Nepalese, and out of those, 128 Nepalese girls and women were put in detention centres in India. The conditions in these centres were as bad as prison, if not worse. The Nepalese government refused to bring these women back to Nepal, claiming they would bring HIV into the country with them. In the absence of government support, seven non-governmental organizations took the initiative to bring these women and girls home and help with their rehabilitation. A group of women who returned from India went on to establish Shakti Samuha.
There has been a drastic change in Shakti Samuha’s programming since 1996. Most notably, the way of seeing trafficking survivors has changed. Now, trafficking survivors are vocal in the fight for their rights and are actively involved in advocacy efforts. On the government side, things have also changed. The Government of Nepal has started taking ownership of the issue of human trafficking and is considering laws to protect survivors of trafficking. However, there is still more work to be done.
Delta 8.7: How do you track the success of your programmes? How does this data influence future projects?
Danuwar: Before starting any project, Shakti Samuha conducts a baseline survey to identify the current situation where the project will take place and to plan strategically how our programme can be successfully implemented. During the project, we conduct mid-line surveys to know how effectively our project is being implemented and to track project progress. And at the end of the project, we conduct an endline survey to better understand the outcomes of the project and to examine how successful the project was in terms of meeting the initial objectives.
The information from these surveys helps us to understand the problems and hurdles faced over the course of the project and avoid repeating them in the future. Solid data and tracking is also important for the development of effective logframes for future projects.
Delta 8.7: How does research from other international organizations and NGOs influence your work, what type of information would you like to use and collect if you had the time and resources?
Danuwar: We use research and reports from other organizatons as a secondary source of information. External research and the sharing of best practices will help as we begin planning for future programmes. We have a particular interest in learning more about the working methods and programming of other anti-trafficking and survivor support NGOs.
If Shakti Samuha had sufficient time and resources, we would like to do more research about survivor protection and reintegration laws and policies around the world. In particular, information on how countries have passed and implemented effective legislation to protect trafficking would be very useful for our work of advocating for survivor rights and protection at the national level.
As provided for in the Terms and Conditions of Use of Delta 8.7, the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of UNU or its partners.