Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Nepal: Former Nepalese sex slaves part of campaign to save victims
From: Laura Rusu (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Jul 11 2000 - 22:28:50 EDT
Former Nepalese sex slaves part of campaign to save victims
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Nisha
and Geeta watch every woman who
crosses out of Nepal at the Kakarvitta
border point, trying to spot those
destined to be sold into brothels in India.
They know what to look for.
The two female border guards, ages 19 and 21, had been
lured from their mountain villages and sold as sex
to Bombay brothels by people who promised them jobs
in the city and escape from hard rural life.
"We were deceived and taken across the border to serve
as sex slaves, but we can still prevent more of them
facing the same fate," said Geeta, who for the past
years has stood guard 12 hours a day at the border
330 miles east of Katmandu.
She and her partner, who talked on condition their full
names not be used, nab at least 20 potential victims
traffickers a month.
"The police were too busy checking for criminals and
smuggling at the border, they had no time or did not
bother to check for traffickers," said Anuradha
who runs Maiti Nepal, a shelter for women who escape
and make it back home.
"Now these women who already have the bitter
experience can point them out for the police."
Maiti Nepal operates patrols at six border points and
plans eventually to cover all 26 crossings into India.
An estimated 200,000 Nepali women work as prostitutes
in Indian brothels. Now the Nepalese government,
and organizations such as UNICEF have joined forces to
combat trafficking of women to India.
Finding traffickers is made more difficult by the long,
border the two countries share, and the fact that
and India do not require visas to cross into each
An estimated 7,000 women are taken to Indian brothels
every year, yet only 130 trafficking cases have been
prosecuted, according to advocate groups.
"Due to the lack of evidence, about 58 percent of these
cases end up in a not-guilty verdict," said Sapana
an advocate with the Katmandu-based Forum for
Women and Development. "The only evidence we have
here is the story of these women, which often is not
enough to convince the judge."
A legal process that can take years also discourages
who do escape, women"s advocates said.
"When the case does come up in court, the law says
intention of sale has to be proved, which is
cases are dismissed on technical grounds," Malla said.
Her group and other agencies have proposed legislation
that would lessen the women"s burden of proof.
Convicted traffickers face up to 20 years in prison.
Malla said those who are arrested and jailed are
poor, without the backing of powerful people with
"This is an organized crime where even members of
parliament have been involved in the past," Malla
At Katmandu"s central jail, half of the 84 female
have been charged with trafficking and face sentences
averaging 10 years.
"The actual traffickers and their leaders are never
arrested. We have often seen the real traffickers get
released from this very jail," said Nirmala Lama, 30,
serving a 10-year sentence for trafficking. "A very
notoriously known trafficker served only two years
sentence and left after offering a bribe of $2,850."
Nepal police have opened a separate department staffed
by female officers to deal with cases of women and
victims, and run awareness programs.
"We are not only sensitizing the community but also our
own force so they know how to deal when victims come
forward," said Govind Prasad Thapa, deputy
superintendent of police.
Still, thousands of Nepalese women continue to end up
brothels in the Indian cities of Bombay, New Delhi,
Ahmadabad, Silguri and Patna every year.
"It is a big business and powerful people are involved.
a spreading and growing phenomenon," UNICEF
Director for South Asia Nigel Fischer said.
Experts say the economic conditions in Nepal, where
more than 40 percent are poor, is part of the problem.
"The real problem here is the low value placed on
women," Fischer said. "For people in South Asia, it is
sin to be born poor and a woman."
-- Laura Ioana Rusu Associate Women's Rights Division Human Rights Watch 1630 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20009 Tel: 202-612-4350 Fax: 202-612-4333 http://www.hrw.org _______________________________________________ Stop-traffic mailing list Stopfirstname.lastname@example.org http://fpmail.friends-partners.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/stop-traffic
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