03/20/2015, 00.00
NEPAL
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Thousands of Nepali women "disappear" in the byways of human trafficking

by Christopher Sharma
A study by Kailali District police highlights an alarming trend. According to Kamala Bhatta, of the Nepali police, every year "5,000 women disappear as a result of human trafficking related to prostitution and organ harvesting." Often, the victims are sold by their own families. For Catholic activist Rupa Rai, "The government must seriously address the issue."

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - In 2013, 103 women disappeared in Kailali district, in western Nepal. In 2014, 118 suffered the same fate in the same district. Just in the last eight months, 69 women vanished. In Tanahun, central Nepal, 82 women and children disappeared in the past seven months, this according to a report by police in Kailali District

These findings underlie a worrisome trend. For most experts, women and children are disappearing at an alarming rate because of human trafficking activities related to prostitution and human organ harvesting.

Once the victims go missing, they simply vanish; very few ever make it home (for Kailali district, 19 in 2013 and 24 in 2014). In many cases, families do not even report the disappearance for fear of being accused by the authorities.

For Kamala Bhatta, who is responsible for women's affairs in the local police, not only "their families often do not report their disappearance," but "Most of the missing women are under 40."

The disturbing thing is that only 30-40 per cent of them go to the police "because they do not have enough money to get to the police station or are afraid of being accused of selling missing persons".

According to her, the number of missing women and girl each year should be 5,000.

Research indicates that the women and girls who go missing end up in the world's prostitution rings, or have their organs "harvested" for donations, in particular kidneys, lungs and eyes.

Often poor families resort to selling their daughters to criminal organisations, lawmaker and activist Sapana Malla Pradahn told AsiaNews. But harvesting human organs from poor girls to sell to rich people is an "intolerable social crime." Sadly, "It would seem that women from humble backgrounds do not have the right to live," she noted.

"Maina Tamang, a young woman from the village of Ghirling (in Tanahun district), said her mother and two sisters vanished this way. "One evening they did not come home. We went to the police but they told us to wait a few days. We did not hear from them for two years. "

Many have called on the government to do something about the problem. "The government must come up with new policies that effectively punish traffickers," said Rupa Rai, a Catholic activist who works with Caritas Nepal. "At the same time, police must take steps to prevent such crimes."

For Regional Deputy Inspector General of Police Ram Kumar Khanal, the authorities have to better co-ordinate their actions with stakeholders, including ordinary citizens.

In order to curb crimes related to human trafficking and human rights violations, "Nepali police has taken various steps," he explained; "however, people from every walk of life must actively join in to ensure their success."

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