Two years into sex slavery, 9 Nepali minors finally get freedom
BY SURENDRA PHUYAL
NEW DELHI, May 16 – Officials in the Indian capital have started preparations to repatriate nine Nepali minor girls, who were sold into prostitution at Delhi’s notorious red light district nearly two years ago but rescued early this week in a surprise police raid.
The girls between 15 to 19 years of age were rescued by the Delhi Police, who took action after local non-governmental organizations put pressure on them, according to government and NGO officials working to repatriate them.
Most of the girls — “of ethnic backgrounds” — hail from Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot districts, north of Kathmandu valley. They are currently receiving shelter at Indian government’s Child Welfare Committee-run shelter home at Hari Nagar in South Delhi district.
Tricked into sex trade
The girls are still in a state of trauma. At the shelter called Nirmal Chhaya Complex, they are receiving regular counseling. It’s still unclear whether they have contracted HIV or other sexually transmitted diseased. Understandably, they are not too keen on being interviewed by the media.
They told rescuers they were tricked into the flesh trade by their friends and relatives, who brought them to the Indian capital separately around two years ago. That has been the common trend often reported in the media in the past decade.
Although they were promised “decent jobs”, they had been leading the “hellish life” at the dingy brothels, said an official involved in the rescue and repatriation. Located in an older part of Delhi, the red light district, G.B. Road, has been notorious for its crumbling, old buildings — and in them, the noisy, littered, stinking and unhygienic living conditions.
With funds from the Indian government, Delhi-based NGO, STOP (Stop Oppression of Children and Women) will soon repatriate them back to Kathmandu, where they are likely to be handed over to Maiti Nepal, the official said. For the last few years, STOP has been actively involved in rescuing and repatriating — by buying air tickets — Nepali minors sold into prostitution in and around the Indian capital.
Embassy without funds
Although India is home to millions of migrant Nepali workers thanks to the open border, officials at the Royal Nepalese Embassy here privately concede that the mission — Nepal’s biggest and oldest so far — does not have “enough funds and resources” to foot the bill of repatriation of the citizens in dire straits like the nine girls.
Like other cities in India such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune, “fair-complexioned” Nepali girls are the main attraction for the clients visiting the brothels at the red light districts in major Indian cities, said Rishi Kant, a coordinator of non-profit organization, Shakti Vahini.
Demand high as ever
In India’s sex-trade markets, “a human trader is paid up to IRs 200,000 for one single fair-looking Nepali girl these days,” he said, adding, “So the demand for them is high here as ever. They are extremely vulnerable to trafficking for sex-trade across India.”
According to a 15-year-old estimation, nearly 200,000 Nepali girls and women were involved in sex-trade in different cities across India in the early 1990s.
Fresh data isn’t available to suggest how many Nepali girls have been forced into prostitution in India. But according NGOs, nearly 12,000 are trafficked into India every year for prostitution. That trend shot up after the conflict situation in Nepal worsened in recent years.
Recent years has also seen girls and women from the conflict-infested mid- and far-western hills of Nepal — often involuntarily and sometimes voluntarily too — landing up in the sex-trade markets of India, according to activists working to check the illegal trade.