Actress Demi Moore partners with CNN Freedom Project for a compelling documentary. A passionate advocate for victims of human trafficking herself, Moore travels to Nepal to meet 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala and some of the thousands of women and girls Koirala’s organization has rescued from forced prostitution. Premieres Sunday, June 26 MORE DETAILS & TIMES
Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) - Dawn breaks in Nepal, a nation whose natural beauty brings tourists from across the globe.
Sun glints off the Himalayas and in the ancient capital, Kathmandu, trekkers gear up for a day of sightseeing and adventure.
Amid the beauty is devastating poverty which provides fertile ground for one of man’s horrors – human trafficking and sexual slavery.
Nepal is a major hub for traffickers luring girls into brothels in India with promises of well-paid - or at least better paid - jobs.
Fighting the traffickers is a small, dedicated band whose limited resources are stretched.
They work with border guards trying to stop women being taken across the border, and in India’s red light districts rescuing women from prostitution, and in Nepal’s villages educating girls about the dangers.
Today is one of hope. Tulli is returning to her home village after being abducted into sexual slavery for several weeks and another six months at a halfway house after her rescue.
She is excited but nervous at how the villagers will treat her because sometimes the shame is directed at the trafficked, not the trafficker.
She was rescued by the Maiti Nepal organization and has spent time readjusting in the group’s halfway house while efforts were made to bring her traffickers to justice.
Maiti Nepal - which translates roughly to mean Mother’s Home - is run by CNN Hero winner Anuradha Koirala, who has made it her mission to help thousands of rescued women.
For this report movie star Demi Moore traveled from Hollywood to Nepal with CNN to see how the group works and how it can help her own organization The DNA Foundation, which works with girls forced to work in the U.S. as prostitutes.
At the Maiti Nepal complex Tulli is packing her bag as other girls pray or eat breakfast while others are busy sweeping.
Tulli gets to say goodbye to her best friend in the facility and jumps into a minivan for the six-hour drive into the mountains to her home village.
For parts of the journey, the road is the same one where she first met the man who trafficked her into India. It’s also the same road that has her favorite tea restaurant.
Koirala said the town was particularly bad for trafficking because it's a key stopping point for buses heading to Kathmandu. She explained traffickers are able to lure girls with promises, drug them and spirit them away.
Koirala said: "Tulli was looking after her brother's shop in the village and one day she met a man who said it's better in a bigger place and he said I will find you a better job.”
She went into town to buy supplies for the shop and did not return.
"At first they (her family) thought she was in the relative's house and they looked there and could not find her.
"Then afterwards they knew she had disappeared somewhere. They didn't tell anyone, they just waited and then later they got the message that she had been trafficked."
Despite knowing where Tulli was, it took the help of two volunteer groups and would be months before she was ready to make the return home.
Maiti Nepal also operates at 10 of the 26 border crossings with India, trying to identify suspicious travelers and stopping girls from being trafficked out of the country, which is about the size of Greece or the U.S. state of Tennessee.
Its uniformed border guards work with, but separate from, the border police and Koirala says every day, on average, they intercept 20 girls at risk of being trafficked. All of the Maiti Nepal guards are rescued sex slaves.
Koirala said: "They watch every girl and they watch the men as well and every vehicle. As soon as they catch someone, (one) takes the boy and (another) takes the girl and they cross-question them. If after questioning they find what they are saying is not true they hand over the boy to the police station and they take the girl to the transit home."
But the odds are stacked in favor of the traffickers. Maiti Nepal estimates it has rescued more than 12,000 women in its 20-year history. That's about the same number of Nepalese women and girls believed to be trafficked to India each year.
The Maiti Nepal guards interrogate travelers looking for inconsistencies - is that old man really the young girl's grandfather; is that woman really taking her daughter for a family reunion? - and suspicious signs that could identify a trafficker.
The police officers who largely take a back seat during the questioning will respond when Maiti Nepal guards believe they have found a trafficker but police Inspector Birenda Godra said they simply don't have the resources themselves to actively look for offenders.
Koirala said: "Cooperation between the police and Maiti Nepal has always been very good ever since 1994. Officially there are 26 borders between Indian and Nepal. Sometimes we have problems with police but you can't put them all in the same basket."
Godra said the biggest problem was not having the manpower to properly work the 2,500-kilometer (1,700-mile) border which Nepalis and Indians can cross without a passport or ID card.
Tulli was one of those shipped across the border and taken to Kolkata. Delhi and Mumbai are other popular destinations for traffickers.
She spent about six weeks at the brothel and says was forced to have sex with up to 20 men a day, before getting up the courage and the chance to try to escape.
Knowing she was taking a huge risk, Tulli asked a Nepalese client to help get word to her brother in Nepal. He agreed to make the phone call and then the brother, with Maiti Nepal's help, traveled to Kolkata to help rescue her.
Maiti Nepal put the family in touch with an Indian group called Rescue Foundation, which joined Indian police in an operation to free Tulli.
Almost every rescued woman spends time, like Tulli has, at Maiti Nepal's Kathmandu facility, receiving counseling and training.
It also helps build legal cases against the traffickers and has a school for about 300 children – some of whom were trafficked with their mothers, some of whom were rescued from living rough on the streets.
And there's a separate hospice building, about 12km north of Kathmandu, which looks after survivors with HIV.
Gita's story is depressingly familiar. She was an orphan lured to India by the false hope of finding her parents.
Koirala said Gita spent two years in a brothel before being rescued and she's been at Maiti Nepal for the seven years since her rescue - living with HIV because condoms were not allowed in the brothel.
Gita said: "Sometimes I think it's just hopeless. Then at other times I think Maiti Nepal is there and they are teaching me a craft then I think I can survive with."
Women in both centers also have to learn to live with the mental scars left by their ordeals.
Now Tulli is ready to return home. She says she knows her family will treat her kindly but she does not know about the wider community.
At 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) above sea level the view from the cluster of metal-roofed shacks is breathtaking.
Although emotions run high, Tulli's reunion with her parents maintains the traditional, respectful formality of her culture, and her brother thanks Koirala for bringing Tulli home.
But among those waiting is a small girl - Tulli's daughter - who has not seen her mom for several months.
Tulli no longer holds back and the tears flow as she holds her daughter.
Tulli is one of the lucky ones - rescued and now home with her family - but Koirala's crusade is to protect the thousands of other girls who will fall prey to the traffickers every year. Her work never stops.