Visiting Practitioner - Gokarna K.C.
When Gokarna K.C. arrived at Emory in August, he had traveled more than 8,000 miles and assumed that what he would experience in Atlanta would be a world away from his home in Kathmandu. K.C. is a lawyer with Maiti Nepal, one of the leading non-governmental organizations fighting the trafficking of women and girls in South Asia. So, he was surprised to learn that in 2012, the FBI named Atlanta as one of 14 cities with high numbers of child prostitutes. He also did not realize that fighting human trafficking in Kathmandu presents many of the same challenges as fighting human trafficking half way around the world.
Maiti Nepal addresses many dimensions of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The organization rescues girls who have been forced into prostitution and prepares legal cases against traffickers. Maiti also addresses the needs of trafficking victims by providing education, rehabilitation, legal assistance, and medical care, and by conducting awareness-raising programs. The organization was founded in 1993 by Anuradha Koirala, who was selected as CNN’s 2010 Hero of the Year in recognition for her work with Maiti. IDN developed a relationship with Koirala in conjunction with a 2009 workshop on violence and vulnerability. The conference highlighted the impact of scholars, lawyers, and activists working together to end human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
As an IDN visiting practitioner, K.C. sat in on Emory courses related to human rights, gender violence, and trafficking. He also shared his work in two public events. In a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ravi Jayakaran, vice president for global programs at MAPInternational, K.C. discussed the impact of child sexual exploitation and trafficking with two MAPInternational colleagues working on child abuse in Bolivia. In a later presentation about his work with Maiti, K.C. focused on legal provisions related to human trafficking, and the human rights-based approach that Maiti follows. During his time in Atlanta he also met with Atlanta-area organizations that deal with issues related to human trafficking, including youthSpark and Men Stopping Violence.
K.C. was particularly interested in the work of Men Stopping Violence, an organization that works to dismantle belief systems, social structures, and institutional practices that oppress women and children and dehumanize men themselves. K.C. met with staff and observed a meeting of men who are struggling with violent behavior. He was inspired by his meeting with the group, but grappled with how a session where men admitted wrongdoing would be received in Nepal. There, K.C. noted, it would be almost unheard of to have a group of men discussing their actions and behavior toward women and children, let alone offering commitment to move forward without violence.
K.C. returned to Nepal in September. He is now creating a professional development program for his colleagues at Maiti to help them place their daily work within a human rights-based framework.