About Nepal and the trafficking issue



On May 25, 2008, the only Hindu monarchy in the world became the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal after 240 years of reign. A few days after the king left the palace, it was transformed into the Museum Narayanhiti.

The country lived for a long time in an atmosphere of tension and guerrillas due to disputes between the old monarchy and the country’s Maoist rebels, who wanted to establish a Communist regime.

Today the country is still in its infancy for a multiparty democracy but the first step was taken on September 20th 2015 when the first Constitution of Nepal was promulgated. The political time is now of new beginnings.

Culture is a reflection of the ethnic diversity that makes up Nepal, however Hinduism have much influence on customs, since 80% of the population is Hindu. Buddhism also influences and blends with Hindu practices (around 10% of practitioners). Buddhism holds that the Buddha was born in Nepal’s lands.

The Nepali year begins in mid-April and is divided into 12 months. Saturday is the official day of rest. The official currency is the Nepali rupee and the language is Nepali, but English is considered a second language. The capital is Kathmandu and the population is 30 million, one of the world’s biggest population densities – 184 inhabitants per square kilometer.

It is considered a poor country, approximately 25.2% of the Nepali population lives below the poverty line, according to 2012 data released by the World Bank. The HDI (Human Development Index) is considered one of the lowest in the world, matching up with many African countries.
More than 90% of Nepal’s work force is in agriculture.

A place of contrasts

Nepal has many contrasts. While it features beautiful mountain scenery, animal diversity, especially birds, the Himalayan chain that has the largest and highest mountain in the world: Everest; Nepal has shortages of water and electricity.

This shortage is not due to natural conditions, but rather to political and structural issues. There are not enough hydroelectric power to capture energy or water distribution system that meets all need, or neither good roads to stimulate the flow of production.

Nepal is famous for its herbs, fruits, honey, but cannot export successfully, it has not developed industry and most of the population is applied to a subsistence crop.

The diversity of languages, ethnic groups, castes is impressive. It is a country that has a very low rate of violence with regard to theft and murder. However, it has high rates of domestic violence, which does not happen out door, but indoors.

Nepal is a lovely country in its natural surroundings while their urban landscapes still fall short by dust and poor infrastructure.

It has a rare human beauty, the random mixture of the Indian people to the Mongolian people, but ends up being a victim of human trafficking, especially of women and girls.

Human trafficking issue

According to a conservative number of the International Labor Organization (ILO) 2.4 million people, mostly women and girls, are currently under forced labor as a result of their trafficking, generating 32 billion for the industry worldwide. Around 1.2 million victims of trafficking are below 18 and 43% of them are under sexual exploitation, 32% under involuntary servitude and 25% are a mixture of both cases.

Victims of trafficking in Nepal are taken to India, the Middle East and other countries, mainly to Asia and are forced to become prostitutes, domestic servants, beggars, slaves working in factories, mines or circuses and others. However, it is for sexual exploitation that most victims are dragged. An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 women and children trafficked to India alone for this purpose.

In Nepal the practice of enslaving people for forced labor, whether for prostitution or other activity is scary. It is estimated that ranks fifth among the countries that enslave people.

The sexual trafficking in Asia

UNICEF estimates that there are more than 1 million children in prostitution in Asia. It is estimated that today there are about 200,000 Nepalese working in the brothels of India only.

The causes of the “sale of girls” are supported on four basic pillars which may have some ramifications from them:

  • Economic factor

With large families and without resources to the minimum survival, many parents in extreme poverty become easy prey for traffickers offering a sum to take the kids and young people.

  • Cultural aspects

The family relationships in most households of Nepal tend to be colder then we know in the Western or Latin culture, especially the poorest, with many children. Many Nepalese do not value the affection in their relationships. They relate and interact superficially. There is the action of an extremely patriarchal society where everything is around the man; the woman has a secondary role in society and within the family context, each develops its role with a certain emotional distance.
In India and Nepal we often hear the saying: “We do not care if they are born girls, once they are born in the house next door.”

This saying shows us how the girls are unwelcome in the family. The distaste for the birth of girls is such a serious issue in some parts of the East that in India – to contain the growing number of female abortions – it was necessary to take a prohibition measure of the sex of the baby dissemination through the ultra-sound examinationThis was a timid attempt by the Indian government to curb female infanticide.

  • Faith-based issues

More than 80% of the Nepalese population is Hindu. In some branches of Hinduism, not all, compassion is seen as a sign of weakness, particularly when linked to karma issues. It is believed that if anyone save the suffering of others, rather than help it, will be damaging in their walk, through suffering, to improve their karma.

Although many of these beliefs are not exposed in the holy books that teach Hinduism, they are attached to the belief of some Hindu branches. According to the Hindu view of the problem, we come to the belief that if a girl is going through the slavery of prostitution is “because she really needs to go through this”. We’ve heard it from some people here in the Himalayas. It is a factor, however, additional but not determinant. The most significant is the economic factor.

  • Ignorance

This factor is also linked to the economic factor. Poor families in the villages are easily deceived with false promises of those “men” or “women” that are presented to them as good people.

How it works

When the girls arrive in the brothels, they are already “indebted”. The food expenditures, transportation, clothes and everything else that they supposedly spent on their way to the new country are the debts they now will “have to pay”. If they want to leave, they will have to pay their “debts”, an amount that usually unfairly increases day by day. The money “they earn” usually is taken by the owner of the brothel, and thus, in theory, they can never pay off the debt. They are forced to submit themselves to the “work”. The other option is trying to escape. However, the threats, the close surveillance and police collusion with traffickers and brothel owners inhibit their way out.

Girls do not have access to enough food and receive from 3 to 40 clients a day in the brothels (average of 14 customers a day). They are submitted to physical and psychological torture; and they become very vulnerable to a range of sexual diseases, since few customers use condoms.

There is no fear from contracting AIDS; there is still little preventive information, a factor exacerbated by the Nepalese and Indian soul, fatalistic and careless, especially with prevention. All these factors propitiate the spread of the disease. Many trafficked girls contract the HIV virus before the age of 18. Many of them are malnourished or die trying to escape, or from disease such as tuberculosis and AIDS. Often they die from infections generated by successive miscarriages.

Despite restrictions in the Indian law, abortion clinics and services are publicly announced on posters on the streets, including prices. There are clinics that charge 10 US$ to make an abortion, but it can be done for much less at “home clinics”. Official Statistics say that 20% of the girls who are in Indian brothels are minors (this statistic considers them “minors”, however, the more appropriate term would be “below 10 years old”); 40% are between 18 and 20 and the remaining 40% are older than 20 years old. Many children, some under 10 years old are indirectly involved in prostitution, since it’s their mother’s profession. Children living in sexual promiscuity environments tend to grow following the same profession of the mother for not knowing other environments with less harmful opportunities. They start begging when very small and as soon as they are pre-teens, actively begin in prostitution.

20% of the teens and young children we have in our homes fit this profile “daughters of women who were prostituting themselves”. Those who are with us were welcomed in a prevention scheme; today they are studying in a private school and receive shelter, good food and a family reference. Many do not want even to visit their mothers, revealing thus an idea of the trauma they suffered in the past.

Children are much more valuable in the market of human trafficking because they haven´t been through a sexual experience. Preteens or teenagers ready to sex life and that already have feminine look seen as attractive, are also of “high value” in the world of trafficking.

We were told that when a beautiful girl and sometimes a child is taken for the “sexual slavery”, when arriving at the destination, she is placed in a luxury hotel and receives a “princess treatment”. Always someone important from an economic point of view is contacted, “A virgin girl is at your disposal!” After the deal, the girl is for a few days at the custody of that customer that usually is an “important person”, financially speaking. The profit for the dealer is exorbitant. As we see, these girls, already in their first steps in prostitution, are a source of high profits to their “owners”. The younger (up to 6 years) and more beautiful they are, the higher the amount paid for them. Their value fades with time, until they worth a few cents for each sex, when they usually get sick and unproductive from the point of view of the brothel’s owners. The Nepalese are an attractive target in the market for prostitution; first, because of poverty and ignorance, as we have seen, then, the physical qualities they possess. The miscegenation of China and India as well as people like Mongols, among others, created physical characteristics that are seen as beautiful and exotic, as in the case of their lighter skin. There is a widespread discrimination in India and Nepal against darker-skinned races (although the Indians are mostly very dark skin). Whitening products are openly advertised on TV, newspapers and magazines. Therefore, the color of the lighter skin of Nepalese girls in relation to Indian girls and neighboring countries is very successful in the market of prostitution in major cities of India.

Watch our documentary (Traffick) about human trafficking for sexual exploitation of nepalese girls: