Every year, more than 8,000 Nepalese citizens are trafficked across the border (National Human Rights Council), and every 45 minutes, a girl is trafficked from Nepal to India. According to Reuters, in the aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Kathmandu in May 2015, the risk of being trafficked increased by 15-20%!
Most of these trafficked persons are vulnerable women and young girls who come from poor families. Their ages range from as young as seven to as old as 25 years old. As having sex with a virgin is believed to be able to cure diseases, younger girls are highly prized by older men, making them particularly vulnerable to receiving the worst kinds of sexual abuse.
Some are kidnapped, drugged, and brought across the border. Others are tricked with promises of marriage to a wealthy businessman or jobs in the city. No matter how they are trafficked, almost all of them eventually end up in dismal conditions as sex workers, cheap labour, or even as unwilling organ donors.
In a country where girls are considered “less than” boys, females often have fewer opportunities to go to school or to get jobs. As such, poor and uneducated parents readily accept promises of a better life for their daughters, unaware that the next time they see her, she would have experienced horrors no one ever should. In addition, an inadequate police force, weak border control, and the powerful mafia in India make it difficult for traffickers to be stopped and brought to justice. What’s worse, those who do manage to escape and find a way home are not welcomed with open arms, but are often shunned for being “soiled goods.” They face shame and disgrace, rejected by their own community.