Sex trafficking remains prevalent in Nepal

Sex trafficking remains prevalent in Nepal

In the States, we are disgusted by the idea of human trafficking, so to analyze such a tragedy in impoverished countries is almost unthinkable.

Unfortunately, this problem remains stagnant in Nepal, one of the main sources of child trafficking in south Asia. According to the United Nations Human Development Index, this neighboring country of India is ranked as one of the countries with the lowest human development indicators in the world.

The Nepalese caste system inhibits its citizens from seeking a greater perhaps and because of this, a large percentage of people in the lower castes turn to sex work as a means of provision for their families.

According to Tim McGirk’s “Nepal’s Lost Daughters, India’s soiled goods,” the India-Nepal border is heavy with perhaps the busiest slave traffic anywhere in the world. 200,000 Nepalese girls are involved in sex trade, and near this border, a large percentage of widespread illiterate women are uneducated on the toils of trafficking.

In “Sex Trafficking In Nepal: It’s A Global Problem,” Ruchika Tuishyan for Forbes Magazine writes about her discussion with the founder of Maiti Nepal, an organization dedicated to rescuing young women from trafficking.

“…poverty was the lowest common denominator in this equation. But the real push factor to the sex trafficking trade was gender inequality. Girls continue to be uneducated in the villages of Nepal, and sexual exploitation persists as men try to exert their power over these impoverished, imprisoned girls,” says Tuishyan.

McGirk also stated that every year approximately 10,000 Nepalese girls, aged nine to 16, are sold to brothels in Indian cities. Depending on their level of beauty, each girl can be sold for between $200-$600, which is “less than a water buffalo, slightly more than a video recorder” (McGirk 1997).

An epidemic of HIV has struck this geographic region, and after being diagnosed with the disease, girls are exiled from brothels to return home to Nepal, often finding abandonment and fatal fates. The open border between Nepal and India inhibits an accurate count of how many infected ex-prostitutes return home.

In addition, according to Soma Wadhwa’s article “For sale childhood,” trafficking is easier than smuggling narcotics or electronic equipment into India. Traffickers drive large groups of girls across the border without having to deal with paperwork or police checks by bribery.

The money involved with this bribery becomes the girls’ debts, and they are not permitted to leave the brothel until they repay what cost them to arrive in the brothel in the first place.

The president of ABC Nepal, a Nepali human rights organization focused on human trafficking, stated, “Nobody wants to speak about it, not even the girls’ families. There are parents who have sold their daughters and husbands who’ve gotten rid of their young wives.”

These sold “young wives,” forced into sex trafficking, often become voluntary sex workers because they have no other options to which to turn. Sex trafficking is neither legal nor illegal in Nepal, and girls from this region are highly prized for their fair skin and youthful appearances.

In addition, another precursor to voluntary sex work includes the ancient Nepalese custom of deuki, which involves the offering of a young Nepalese girl from her family to the local Hindu temple to gain religious merit.

Although the practice has been legally abolished, deuki is still practiced by poor families. Girls involved in deukis become reliant on patrons’ monetary donations to the temples to sustain themselves. With scarce income, many girls are forced to partake in “survival sex,” a form of prostitution in which girls are paid though fundamental necessities, including shelter and food.

Reflecting upon these horrifying statistics, I am reminded that our world isn’t nearly as progressive as we all wish it was. Living in the US, and especially as a college student surrounded by safety nets, I am always unaware of girls my age or younger being forced into lives they don’t know they don’t have to live.

Although media has shone bright lights on this tragedy occurring among young women, rates of sex trafficking remains shockingly high. A responsibility of the public health and political sectors in this country, the problem of trafficking needs to be addressed by affluent societies to alleviate such horrors in less fortunate communities.