Shakti Samuha

After girls and women had been rescued from brothel, Mumbai police kept them in their government shelter home which was not less than hell. Around 100 girls were kept in a room without proper bed, proper food and they used to be treated with abusive words. Sunita recalls, the only difference at that time was, they didn't have to please men physically. Otherwise, the life was very cruel to them and in between some died, some fled and some married with their clients. This tough life continued till seven months, because the then Nepal government showed indifference to bring back to Nepal with fear of HIV.The apparent cause showed by government was lack of citizenship of girls and women.

It was continuous fight of seven non-governmental organizations, CWIN, WOREC Nepal, ABC Nepal, Strishakti, Shanti Punasthapan Griha, Nabajyoti and Maity Nepal who kept pushing the Nepal government and then only government was ready to bring them back.However, government was not ready to pay their cost of arrival. It was greatness of Bollywood actor, Sunil Shetty, who offered the financial assistance with the support of Save the Children. Finally, out of 200 Nepali girls and women, only 128 had been brought successfully and the day of their flight to Nepal was also tearful for them, as it was completely unknown path in front of them. On top of that, media covered the news with ugly and inhuman headlines, saying "Prostitutes returning home land with Package of HIV", "HIV bombs exploding in capital city, Kathmandu", "Mumbai Bhalu (very dejected term in Nepali for sex-worker) returning home country" etc etc.

Veteran social activists Gauri Pradhan(CWIN), Dr. Renu Rajbhandari (WOREC Nepal) and Durga Ghimire (ABC Nepal) had to struggle a lot with government to restablish those returned girls and women. Those NGOs and some others took ownership of the girls and the process of re-establishment started. As a part of the process of , they had been taken to hospitals to check for HIV. Sunita still has the fresh memory, how doctors and nurses hesitated even to touch them and used to wear five-six gloves while they were taken for HIV test.After HIV test, Sunita and few girls came with HIV negative results, however her many close friends had HIV positive. Due to which, they cried with feeling of distress, frustration,doubt, traumatized and hatred with no interest for food and no interest to talk to anyone.

In between, Dr. Renu Rajbhandari organized 10 days training for fifteen girls, including Sunita, after which they realized, it was not their personal fault to be trafficked and they decided to convert their tear into power.This is how, the name Shakti Samuha originated in 1996 and they started to work as a survivor, counsellor, trainer and leader. The name Shati Samuha is composed of two Nepali words, Shakti and Samuha. Shakti means power and Samuha means group. So, Shakti Samuha altogether means, The Power Group.

Somehow, Sunita and her friends organized the team as Shakti Samuha and began to work, but they had to struggle for few years to register the organization.When they went government office for registration, officers used to suggest them to find jobs in bars and massage parlours. Furthermore, officers would discourage telling girls, they didn't have academic qualifications and they needed to have such qualifications to run organization. Besides that, most importantly, they had the problem of citizenship. Because, some of them were disowned by family, some of them were not able to be in touch with family and in Sunita's case, she was not able even to find location of her parents, as she had been trafficked from India. However, the girls never lost the hope, borrowed some citizenships, decided to move ahead and finally registered Shakti Samuha in 2000. Interestingly, in 2007 the same office who had denied to register the organization in the beginning, recognized their work and provided letter of appreciation.

Shakti Samuha is first in type in Nepali history to be the organization run by trafficked victims themselves and with power of this group, thousands of prospective victims have been saved, thousands have been established, counselled and benefited to be integrated in mainstream life.The partner organizations of Shakti Samuha are- Asha Nepal, Free The Slaves(FTS),Plante enfante,Kidasha,Terres Des Hommes Foundation,Free a girl, Nepalese home,UMODC,UN gift,Newcastle University,World child foundation and Nepal government.