Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Trafficking in Nepali women and girls towards India, China and Arab countries is a growing problem. Unemployment in the Himalayan nation is high and many families, to survive, end up selling their daughters to traffickers who force the latter into prostitution. With promises of US$ 40-55 a month, traffickers induce parents to hand over their children. Brothel owners pay them US$ 40-65 a month.
"In remote villages, more and more families are forced to sell their youngest daughters in exchange of a monthly payment," said Parbati Budathoki, a former prostitute in Surkhet District (northern Nepal), told AsiaNews.
"Most of the victims are used by their parents or blood relatives as a source of income," the 19-year-old explained. She herself was sold to a brothel in Delhi (India) when she was only 16 for 15,000 rupees (US$ 280).
"In Delhi, I received up to 25 customers a day," she remembers. "If I did not work, my masters would beat me, burn me with cigarettes. The same would happen to other young women."
During her captivity, she tried to escape four times, unsuccessfully. She only got out because of a customer who married her in order to free her from her slave status.
Parbati said that she and six other girls from her village ended up in the same place. Many of those who make it to 25-30 years go into business and open their own brothel.
This is the worst part of the story because often former prostitutes return to their home village to recruit, contributing to trafficking.
Surkhet Police Chief Biswa Niranjan Pradhan said that after Parbati's case, the authorities decided to launch an investigation into the sale of young women by families. In her case, they arrested her father Parshuram Budathoki Mizar, and three other men.