However, the social landscape of Nepal tells another story—a story that few trekkers and tourists hear along their journeys. Nepal is one of the poorest countries on earth, with a per capita income of just $700 per year, and an unemployment rate of 50 percent. Nepal also suffers from high infant mortality rates. In addition, only 34 percent of the native women are literate, with the country’s rural areas topping the world’s illiteracy charts.
As a result, this beautiful but fragile country is a prime target area for human traffickers looking to lure naïve rural women into the sex trade. Desperation drives Nepali women and girls to believe false promises of employment and opportunity from traffickers and to leave their families and communities in search of better lives. Many times, families sell their young girls to put food on the table for themselves, believing that their daughters will find jobs to send money home to help support the family.
These women never make it to the life that was promised to them. In reality, the job opportunities waiting for them are in brothels or debt bondage with little hope of escape.