Nepali Times
The missing half


CLOSE CALL: Selmendo Tamang (centre) with her father-in- law and husband. Selmendo was being trafficked by her own uncle, but escaped.

Selbon Tamang is 52, and for most of his adult life he has been searching for a bride in his village of Sisipu of Nuwakot. But there aren't any. This village 90km north of Kathmandu has no young women left: they have all been trafficked to brothels in India.

Selbon is not alone. There are hundreds of young men here in northern Nuwakot who can't find brides. It is estimated that more than 5,000 of the women from this remote mountain region are in brothels in Mumbai and other cities in India.

"I have been searching for a bride for the last 11 years, but only underaged girls are left in the village," says Kanchha Tamang, 37, of Sisipu. Ghangphedi's population growth
has gone down to below replacement rate fertility.

Even married women are being tricked and sold, sometimes by relatives in India. "My wife was sold by her own relatives to a brothel in Kolkata," says Lal Bahadur Tamang of Shikharbesi. The trafficking ringleader, Chhopa, alias Kale Tamang, was finally caught last month (see box). Chhopa sold another woman, Kumari, just 37 days after she married Mangale Tamang, tricking her with promise of a job. Asmita Thapa of the anti-trafficking organisation, Shakti Samuha, says Kumari was sold to a brothel in Kolkata run by her own aunt.

There are those who return to tell horrific stories of abuse and exploitation. Among them is Thulimaya (name changed) who has returned after working in brothels in Mumbai for 25 years. As seems to be often the case, after five years of working in a brothel, Thulimaya started running her own.

Fifty-two year old Selbon Tamang is still unmarried because there are no girls of marriageable age left in his village.
Kamal Sitaula, a teacher in Shikharbesi believes young women at first don't know that they are going to be sex workers. They are attracted by the glamorous tales of wealth by relatives who have returned from Mumbai or Kolkata to recruit. Sitaula estimates that 60 women from Ghyangphedi run their own brothels in India, and they regularly seek fresh young girls from the village.

Eighteen-year-old Selmendo Tamang's (pictured, left, centre) own uncle took her to Rasuwa to sell her off. "It was only when police arrived that I realised I was about to be sold," Selmendo recalls. Her marriage to Aitaman Tamang last year was been the only marriage in Sisiphu in the last eight years.

Ask any parent here about their missing daughters and the standard answer is: "She is in college in the city". Bishnu Prasad Acharya, the principal of a primary school in Simtang says more than 15 girls from his school have been trafficked.

Government apathy, political protection of recruiters and lack of opportunities mean that the social structure of villages here is falling apart. But local communities are now working to spread awareness, and Shakti Shamuha is carrying out rescue and rehabilitation.

Get out of jail

Kale Tamang alias Chhopa, 41, who has been responsible for many of the cases of trafficking from Nuwakot, was finally caught by police last month. In a career spanning 16 years since 1996, Chhopa is estimated to have trafficked at least 400 women. Police here say there are another 30 people who are still at large. However, anti-trafficking activists are worried that middlemen are trying to get Chhopa out of jail by posting a Rs 6 million bail.

Back with HIV

Kanchimaya Tamang is 49. She was sold to a brothel in India by her relatives when she was a teenager. When she got infected with HIV, she was sent back to Nepal. In the last three years, seventeen people have died due to HIV/AIDS in Shikharbesi alone. There are many women like Kanchimaya with HIV in Shikharbesi, and many have married because of the shortage of brides.

Read also:
Young girls from the remote mountains of northwestern Nepal who were trafficked to the southern tip of India are rescued this week

Longer version (Nepali)

1. Dhana Rai
Capital punishments for these scums of our society should be considered and implemented ASAP. Many Kale Tamangs are freely roaming around in the hills of Nepal searching for innocent daughters, mothers, and sisters of our country. It is in deed sad to know the sky rocketing statistics of these innocent girls sent to the hell for their life with high risk for HIV, AIDS, Hepititis B, & C with high mortality rate. Kale Tamang should be considred for capital punishment with no mercy to set an example for the rest of the Kale Tamangs of our society.

2. Nepali
Don't Worry about 250000 are engased in sex trade in india and about 150000 in GCC & pakistan. the lat three repulican Govt  and other of past are Same. kanchha and bahadur are best leaders of nepal. now very soon BRB will prove himself and become new kanchha . long live Government of K& B.

3. Madhesi
BRB extended Zero tollerence to corruption perhaps in his openion corruption doesnot fall as crime.hens only few peole are in his cabinet . NOw his appointee mukti draw all cases of crime against them. nation will be free from criminal records and human trafficking will be chief source of remittances earned by women. Now Barrack Obama will recognise in Neyork recent Visit of PM BRB.Pashupati will be happy?

4. Tashi Lama
It is very sad to know about these stories of girl trafficking, even by their own near relatives, with this reality it shows that this kind of dirty business of selling girls had taken deeper roots in their society, just for the sake of making some easy money. This practice of trafficking girl will not stop easily if serious initiative and strict law is not taken by the government and locals effectively. First priority to begin with is with good education facility and effective social awareness in such locality, everyone in the locality should be made vigilant on those culprits. Some kind of new revolution should be taken against those who made riches by selling innocent girls to the brothels in India, many in the locality might be aware of those few wealthy ones who earned these dirty money. A strong awareness should be created to stop this crime of trafficking by any genuine NGOS in Nepal i.e. Maitri Nepal of Anuradha Koirala, otherwise this crime keeps on going and these innocents girls will suffer severely ones they get aids! even more after getting older, they would face a very hard life! 

The cause is: Too much of corruption in Nepal paves way for all the culprits of any crime to run free, Nepal now needs Anna Hazare of it's own to fight against corruption! If this disease of corruption is not checked and cured, no one can bring stability in Nepal government and or in the Nepali society at large. 

5. KiranL

Thank you Nepali Times for constantly reaffirming our faith in the Nepali people with heart-warming stories like that of Jhamak Ghimire, Haridevi Rokaya, the Esther Benjamin Trust that rescues trafficked girls, and activists like Asmita Thapa of Shakti Samuha. They are the true heroes of the New Nepal. Kiran L

6. Kancha Nepali
What happened to the Maoist movement in curbing this pathetic tales of trafficking in persons. I thought these tragic stories of women being sold to brothels in India would be over after the Moaist came into power. Looks like they are no different from the corrupt and indifferent Panchas, kangresis and the males. It is curse to be born as a Nepal for many, particularly in the remote hills of Nepal.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)