The Nepal earthquakes cost the country more than $15 billion US, half the country’s GDP.
Centuries old UNESCO World Heritage buildings were destroyed. The earthquakes raised Kathmandu three feet higher, while shrinking Mt. Everest an inch.
And the government is still overwhelmed.
There is widespread unemployment, poverty, and the leftover impact of a ten-year Maoist insurgency. And there is on-going economic slowdown post-quakes because of the destroyed tourist industry. Trekking and mountaineering was a huge revenue earner for the chronically impoverished country, without which Nepal’s recovery is bound to be prolonged.
On top of all this, many agencies remain frustrated by bureaucratic bottlenecks, which continue to slow delivery of assistance to those who need it most.
As of early June, there are still many, many remote villages that have not seen sufficient aid.
But beyond the economics—which is difficult to separate—is an even greater human loss, which makes Nepali women and children the very most vulnerable. The earthquakes affected eight million people, two million of them children.
8,700 people died in the two quakes.
The UK version of “The Guardian” states that while thousands of Nepalese are still camping out in the open, women and children are being sexually harassed and assaulted. The latest attempt to protect the women is to have Nepalese women police offer self-defense classes in Judo and Karate to the women living in these makeshift shelters. This also gives mothers confidence to counter would-be traffickers, who have been trying to take Nepali children into India to work in factories in Mumbai or into brothels.
These displaced women and young girls are learning how to kick, punch, and put culprits into various locks. Often drunk men have tried to take advantage of the vulnerable situation of these women and children, so many of whom have lost their husbands and fathers, who might have protected them.
The first lessons are taking place in Boudhanath monastery. The self-defense trainings are planned to expand to several other camps in Kathmandu.
Meanwhile, police and security agencies have increased vigilance against trafficking in quake-hit areas and especially along the Nepal-Indian border. The government has also imposed a three-month ban on adoption of children and made it mandatory for traveling youngsters to carry permission letters, if not accompanied by their parents.
It is also a huge help that some schools are re-opening this month in make-shift schoolrooms, providing some day-time normalcy for the country’s many children.
Author: Linda Lewis
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Wiki Commons