Reconnecting to My Roots: HPC Fellow, Neha Gauchan, ECPAT International

Neha Gauchan is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with ECPAT International. At ECPAT International, Neha provided in-depth research and recommendations on the state of child sexual exploitation in Nepal. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

I first encountered ECPAT International when I was studying my Master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratisation at Mahidol University, Thailand. ECPAT International, based in Bangkok, is the regional headquarters which works with 113 members in 98 countries in ending the sexual exploitation of children. This excited me the most because by working at the ECPAT headquarters, I would be able to contribute the majority of my time to learning from people with diverse expertise in child rights. ECPAT International’s research and advocacy work in child protection, especially on ending the sexual exploitation of children, was the area I was keen on working in. Lack of research in this field in the Global South contributes heavily to the lack of policies and changes we hope for, and it is humbling to be part of efforts to change that status quo. Getting to work with the team for the past six months gave me a deep insight on what needs to be done in this area.

Before joining as a fellow at ECPAT International, I had some experiences working against child sexual abuse. My internship in Vietnam frequently organized awareness raising events on topics of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), and it was during this time I had developed an interest in this field. While organizing these events, I often heard stories from people who shared their real-life experiences. It strengthened my belief that these narratives needed to be backed with evidence and research. As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow on the Research and Policy team at ECPAT International, I got the chance to own the Nepal project, conduct in-depth research, and provide proper recommendations for lobbying the government stakeholders.

During my time at ECPAT International, I also worked in drafting desk-based research on sexual exploitation of children in Nepal. Coming from Nepal, I felt this was a huge opportunity for me to better understand my country’s context on this issue and contribute to the existing literature on children’s issues in Nepal. Initially, the circumstances of child sexual exploitation in Nepal was very new to me due to little publicly available data and information on this issue. However, with time, I was able to gather and compile relevant information on five different manifestations, namely exploitation of children in prostitution, online child sexual exploitation, sale and trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism, and child, early, and forced marriages.

By undertaking this research, I was able to re-connect to my roots and understand the privilege that I have which could be utilized to bring a positive change to the lives of children in Nepal. This research project was not only a task that I was assigned as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, but it was also a small step of advocacy to bring awareness and act upon such issues in Nepal. Nothing is more fulfilling and satisfying than contributing to the needs of people back in my home country and this research has brought back my passion to continue fighting for the rights of children. I would like to thank the Hilton Prize Coalition and ECPAT International for giving me this opportunity to undertake this research project and helping me grow as an avid researcher in my professional career.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the  Fellows Program, the  Collaborative Models Program  and the  Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat,  Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit  prizecoalition.charity.org, or contactprizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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