If anyone embodies the resilience and indomitable strength of the human spirit, it’s Indira Gurung, recent winner of everywoman in Travel’s International Inspiration award.
At the age of 13, Gurung became a victim of human trafficking. She is one of 7,000 women and girls who are trafficked into Nepal’s sex industry each year.
Determined to help others, Gurung became a founding member of SASANE, a survivor-led, non-profit organisation aiming to end physical and sexual exploitation of Nepalese women.
Through SASANE, Gurung qualified as a paralegal, then worked on the eastern border of India to prevent trafficking and provide counselling to victims.
To date, SASANE has worked with 400 survivors, training them as paralegals and empowering them to find justice for themselves and others.
Women are also trained as tour guides and hospitality staff, helping them gain financial independence through tourism.
“I wanted to be independent, but alone it was impossible,” says Gurung. “When I was in trouble I didn’t have any idea what to do. One voice can’t be heard, but as a group the voice is louder. We can share the fight and support each other.”
Gurung adds the training the women receive helps them become aware of their rights. “If [women] are legally aware, they know their fundamental rights.”
Many of the women see SASANE as a vital support network, she continues: “When survivors come out of trouble, they are afraid to go home. SASANE is like a family, a second home.”