Using a qualitative descriptive methodology, this study explored the experiences of Nepalese women trafficked into prostitution in India. The study found that poverty and lack of awareness about being at risk for trafficking are the major precursors for their trafficking experience. Abduction, fake marriages and the seduction of a better job were the major approaches adopted by pimps to traffic the women. The study also showed that after returning from the Indian brothel(s), they were rejected by their family and community. Such rejections occurred as family and community perceived these young women as at high risk for HIV infection. Strategies should be put in place to assist the women to reintegrate into their family and community.
Keywords: Nepal, trafficking, women, prostitution, reintegration, humiliation, HIV
Trafficking into the sex trade has been a global phenomenon (Miller, 2006; Murphy, 2001; Wilson, 1997). It is reported that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across borders around the world of which two-thirds are found to be compelled into prostitution or sex-slavery (Miller, 2006). A large number of women are trafficked in South-Asia and are forced into prostitution. Nepal has one of the highest incidence of trafficking of women into sex trade in the South-Asia region (Wilson, 1997).
Trafficking of women into prostitution is a serious form of violence and exploitation against women. Trafficking is "the recruitment and transportation of a person within and across national borders by means of deceit, violence or threat of violence, abuses of authority or dominant position for work or authority, that may result in forced labour or slavery-like practices" (ABC/Nepal, 2003:1). The trafficking of women is primarily for the purpose of sex trade (ABC/Nepal, 2003:1; Paudel & Carryer, 2000). Prostitution or any activity involving women for sexual exploitation is illegal in Nepal (KC, Subedi, Gurung, & Adhikari, 2001; Sanghera & Kapur, 2001). However, socio-cultural, economic and political factors are related with the sexual exploitation of women (ABC/Nepal, 2003; Ghimire, 1994; Singh, 1994).
Nepal is a landlocked country nestled between two Asian giants; India to the South, East and West, and Tibet, part of China to the North. All borders with both neighbouring countries are open, and a visa is not required by the citizens of India and Nepal to cross the borders between Nepal, and some parts of Tibet. Nepal has been governed by a monarchical system for over two hundred years, and during that period, The Rana system of government ruled over the nation by keeping the monarch under 'house arrest' for nearly a century and sexual exploitation of women was very apparent during this period (Ghimire, 1994:5). Democracy in Nepal came into effect nearly two decades ago, however the people led government was politically unstable and change slow in evolving. In the first decade of democracy, most of the universal declarations, including the elimination of all forms of discriminations against women were signed into law. However, the enforcement of the declarations into action was largely ineffective. As a consequence, sexual exploitation against women, including their trafficking into prostitution remained and is still high in Nepal.
It is projected that around 200,000 Nepalese girls (Ghimire, 1997:6; Gurung, 2003:2; Pradhan, 1994:38) and women have been sold into prostitution into various cities of India. Around 5000 girls are sold annually (ABC/Nepal, 2003:3; Ghimire, 1994:5; Thapa, 1997). The trafficking of girls to brothels in India has received much attention since The Times of India identified that 100,000 Nepali women were working in Indian brothels in 1989 (Ghimire, 1997:7). Also a significant number of girls have been trafficked to work in Indian circuses where they face sexual exploitation and torture (Ghimire, 2004:25). …