Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Nepal: Their Lives Ruined, Former Sex Slaves in Nepal Work to Save Others
From: by way of Melanie Orhant (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 21:46:16 EDT
An interesting (and heartening) variation of a support
IHT, Paris, Thursday, June 29, 2000
Their Lives Ruined, Former Sex Slaves in
Nepal Work to Save Others
By Dexter Filkins Los Angeles Times Service
BIRATNAGAR, Nepal - Of the thousands of
Nepalese girls kidnapped
to work in brothels across Asia, a brave
few have returned to haunt their
Seized as adolescents, the women now stand
guard at checkpoints along
the border shared with India to stop
traffickers and rescue other girls about
to be spirited out of Nepal.
Since 1997, when the women first took their
posts, they have caught 70
suspected traffickers and saved 240 girls
as they were being smuggled
across the frontier. In a country where
thousands of girls are kidnapped and
sold into prostitution each year, their
efforts reflect a growing commitment
to stop the illegal trade.
For women such as Sushma Katuwal, sold for
$700 to an Indian pimp
when she was 14, the border duty offers a
chance to reclaim the self-worth
she left behind in a brothel.
''I came back from hell,'' said Miss
Katuwal, who was freed by police after
13 months in captivity. ''I am trying to
stop these girls from being sold like I
The capture of suspected traffickers has
provided moments of high drama:
Bursting with rage, some of the women
guards have attacked suspects as
police led them away. One woman chased a
suspect into a canal, where he
was hauled out and arrested. Others have
coaxed traffickers and their prey
back across the border and into the hands
At the chaotic Biratnagar crossing, Miss
Katuwal, now 19, stood recently
in a bright green sari, scanning the faces
of girls as they came through.
Hours passed before she stopped a girl
seated in the back of a bicycle
rickshaw. Miss Katuwal asked her a few
questions, nodded and waved her
''I know what to look for; it's in their
eyes,'' she said. ''These girls think they
are going to jobs in India, but I have
never seen one come back and say her
life is better.''
Nepalese police credit Miss Katuwal with
nailing four suspected traffickers
and rescuing 15 girls since the beginning
of the year.
''Usually Sushma is right,'' said R.K.
Shrestha, a police sub-inspector in
The traffic in girls represents a national
humiliation for Nepal, an
impoverished country better known for its
Himalayan treks. Experts here
say most of the abductees are smuggled out
of the country to brothels in
India, where they are prized for their fair
skin and East Asian looks.
Many of the Nepalese girls who wind up in
Indian brothels come from poor
villages in the mountains. They often are
lured by the promise of
housekeeping or factory jobs in India or
the Middle East. Once in India,
they are held captive, sometimes in tiny
windowless rooms where they
service dozens of men each day. Some
escape, others are rescued.
The experiment to catch the traffickers was
set up by Anuradha Koirala,
who runs a home in the capital, Katmandu,
for women brought back from
the brothels. The home is called Maiti
Nepal; Maiti means ''mother's
house.'' Most of the women are doomed:
HIV-positive, like Miss Katuwal,
and without the money for treatment. Most
will not talk about their
Three years ago, with the women growing
restless, Miss Koirala hit upon
the idea of posting guards at the border.
With the help of a grant from the
International Labor Organization, she set
up four guard posts.
''All the girls want to go to the border,''
Miss Koirala said. ''They are angry,
but they don't know how to express
Miss Katuwal is one of only a handful of
returnees strong enough to tell her
story. In 1995, when she was 14, floods
washed away her village,
Dhungra, in southern Nepal. Her family had
resorted to sleeping under a
plastic sheet when a village woman asked
her if she wanted to make money
working in a garment factory in Nepal. Miss
Katuwal, the youngest of five
children, jumped at the chance to earn
money for her family.
But instead of Katmandu, the woman took
Miss Katuwal by bus to the
Indian border, where they were met by three
men. Miss Katuwal had never
been to the capital and was not sure what
it looked like or how far it was.
''Where are you taking me?'' Miss Katuwal
recalls asking her captors.
The men took her out of Nepal to a brothel
in the southern Indian city of
Pune. The village woman had sold her to the
men, she later discovered, for
2,000 Indian rupees, about $50 at the time.
In a typical day, she recalls, she serviced
about 30 men. Each paid between
$3.50 and $12, depending on how long he
stayed and what he wanted
from her. She was kept in a four-story
building in Pune's notorious Koothi
district, which housed 13 other Nepalese
girls, most of whom, she guesses,
were 14 or 15 years old.
''What could I do?'' Miss Katuwal asked.
''I had to have sex with many
men. I was so sad. From the first day that
I was in that place, my goal was
to punish the people who did this to me. I
never lost that faith.''
Many of the girls in the brothel were not
so resilient. One, a Nepalese
named Sarad, hanged herself from a ceiling
Miss Katuwal did not go outside the brothel
until 13 months after her
arrival, when the Indian police raided it.
Miss Katuwal attained her goal. Weeks after
her arrival in Katmandu, while
sitting by a window at Maiti Nepal, she
spotted two of the people who had
taken her to India. She screamed for help
and ran out after the men.
''We all ran out the door, every girl in
the house, and chased down the men
and dragged them to the police station,''
Miss Koirala said.
Miss Katuwal testified against the pair,
and they were convicted in a
Nepalese court. One got a three-year term.
The other was sentenced to
five years. After that, Miss Koirala
decided to send Miss Katuwal to the
She seemed almost serene as she watched the
rickshaws pass through the
border crossing. Miss Katuwal says saving
kidnapped girls has given
meaning to her short, traumatic life.
''As long as I survive,'' she said, ''this
is what I am going to do.''
From: <email@example.com> AT UNS_GTWY on
06/28/2000 09:17 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org AT
cc: (bcc: Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt/UNCHR/UN)
Subject: REQUEST - Information on support networks to help
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Description: "cc:Mail Note Part"
I work for Refugee Action in UK and am doing some research into
trafficking of women into prostitution. At present the UK law
does not allow
women who have been trafficked into prostitution, any temporary
stay in the
country which obviously makes it extremely difficult for women
In order to assess what our organisation can do, I am
interested in finding
out what other organisations exist worldwide (in particular
Europe) to help
and support vulnerable women who have been trafficked into
need somewhere to go, where they can be offered understanding,
and given information that will enable them to make their own
I would be grateful for any information and advice as to what
organisations are doing.
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