In 1992 Dr. Aruna Uprety attended a seminar on HIV/AIDS in Mumbai, India. While there she visited brothels in which many Nepalese women and girls work as sex slaves. Dr. Uprety talked with them and found most of them were sold by traffickers who offered them false hopes of a good job or marriage. She found girls as young as 14 whose dreams of going to school and receiving an education were shattered.
When Dr. Uprety asked the women if they wanted to go back to Nepal. They told her it was too late for them but they implored her to stop other Nepalese women and girls being sold into brothels and giving them an education that would change their futures.
One woman, with tears in her eyes, asked Dr. Uprety to make girls aware of this crime, so they will not be lured by good-looking people with their false promises. If we were educated and knew of such things, we would have never come to this hell. Every day we live with pain and suffering.
Dr. Aruna also visited a girl named Nisha who was hospitalized with AIDS. Nisha’s physician told Dr. Uprety Nisha has worked in a brothel for the past seven years and had given birth to a baby girl three months before. Three days after Dr. Uprety’s visit, Nisha died.
These incidents were very painful for Dr. Uprety and she then decided to stop girl trafficking.
On her return to Nepal, she and some friends established a small organization dedicated to preventing girls from trafficking, end violence against women and improve women’s reproductive health in Nepal.
Initially, RHEST had two staff, worked from a single room and found 25 girls in Syangja who were at risk of being trafficked. She put them in school, paid for their education costs and started to raise awareness in their communities about the risks of trafficking. There are now over 8,500 at-risk girls in the program, in 18 districts throughout Nepal.
RHEST also helps thousands of women through our mobile reproductive health clinics, provides funds for surgical interventions for hundreds of women suffering from uterine prolapse and trains rural health workers and volunteers in the identification, treatment, and prevention of women’s reproductive health issues.