Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepalese Women "seduced" by the promise of money; or sold as brides to terrorists in Syria; or even used by the militia of the Islamic State (IS) as human shields. These are some of the realities that have emerged from a Nepalese police investigation into the trafficking of women and girls to countries in Africa and the Middle East.
On April 7, the authorities of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal arrested a group of traffickers who sold the innocent victims for the price of 7 thousand dollars each. Following a complaint from a woman who had been trafficked to Syria and forced to work in the sex trade, the officers discovered a criminal organization that deluded girls with promises of work as dancers in bars and restaurants. In fact, on arriving in countries such as Syria, Tanzania and Kenya, the victims were sold to terrorists, who used them as human shields.
Hemanta Malla Thakuri, head of CIB and deputy inspector general of police of Nepal, told AsiaNews that the investigations began thanks to the information gathered by some women that the International Organization for migrants managed to save in Kenya, Syria and other countries of the Middle East. The inspector general also reveals that "criminals targeted women and girls belonging to the poorer classes of society." The traffickers chose the Nepalese women because they are "cheaper and submit more easily."
Police compiled a list of six Nepalese and one Indian traffickers: they are Rajendra Khatri and Sunil Adhikari, from Lalitpur; Sabin Raja Manandhar, Keder Bahadur Khadka and Nabin Dahal, from Kathmandu; Lalit Raj Singh Suwal, from Bhaktapur, and Tarun Rojan Khanagwal from New Delhi.
According to authorities, Khatri was the leader of the group. He owns a travel agency in Kathmandu and was released only recently: last year he was arrested for human trafficking. He also invested in some bars in Nepal and Dubai. Another suspect, Manandhar, owns some restaurants in Kenya and Tanzania and worked closely with Suwal, who owns a computer company in Kathmandu. The Indian Khanagwal had the task of selecting the "right girls", who were then sent with false documents thanks to another accomplice, Khadka, who owns a hotel near the Tribhuvan International Airport (in the Nepalese capital).
Inspector Thakuri also explained the selection of the girls: "The suspects were used the smoke screen of a modelling agency. They organized photo shoots and sent the photos to some accomplices in the countries of destination. If the girls were approved, the accomplices sent an advance payment that varied between one thousand and 2 thousand dollars".
Police seized 24 suspects passports of women, their photographs and about 900 thousand dollars in cash. The authorities suspect that the organization has also arranged been active in trafficking for years to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, Oman, Bahrain, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.