WNN interview: Inside the world of sex-trafficking Nepal 2015

Kamala Budhathoki Sarup with Lys Anzia – WNN Interviews

Young Nepalese prostitute in India
This image of a young Nepalese prostitute in India points to the problem with human trafficking worldwide. As the business of misleading parents to release their daughters to go to India for ‘career training and opportunity’ human traffickers instead lead youth to brothels that now exist in the thousands in Mumbai. The likelihood that those connected to human trafficking would want to use Google to advertise their sex-trafficking activities is high. Image: GlobalMedia cc

(WNN) Arlington, Virginia, U.S., AMERICAS: Serious crimes today continue throughout Asia as the country of Nepal wrestles with a level of exploitation that brings suffering to innocents that are beyond most people’s comprehension. This is suffering that has hit members of society who live at the very bottom of Nepal’s system of caste and discrimination.

As cross-border trafficking brings women and children across the borders of Nepal crimes of sex-trafficking, organ trafficking, labor trafficking and bonded labor has now become a global billion dollar industry that is not letting go in the areas of Nepal hit the hardest by poverty and marginalization.

“Today actually trafficking has become more murkier as it is merged into the whole process of labor migration,” said Nandita Baruah, The Asia Foundation’s deputy country representative in Nepal in an interview made during a 2013 film production by USAID.

Labor migration per se is alot of negative things, outlines Baruah. “But the problem happens when labor migration does not happen through the right channel or in the garb of labor migration men and women actually get trafficked to other countries,” Baruah adds. “That happens primarily where government systems aren’t very strong and local opportunities are limited men and women are willing to take risks.”

Today trafficking in persons (TIP) is, yes, a problem of migration that can be deadly. It can also be racked with innuendo and sexual exploitation, forced labor and/or the monetized removal of organs for sale on the global medical black market.

These are all things dangerous to those who ‘take a risk’.

In a one-on-one interview with Nepali journalist and author Kamala Sarup, WNN – Women News Network founder Lys Anzia digs deep into the story behind the story in Nepal today.


Lys Anzia for WNN – Women News Network: In 2008 you reported for WNN – Women News Network on the conditions for girls in Nepal who were trapped in the industry of sex-trafficking as forced prostitutes in Bombay. Do you feel that any progress has been made to improve this situation for the girls and young women in Nepal who are the most vulnerable to sexual exploitation, those who’s families are fighting poverty?

Kamala Sarup:

Women from poor areas, are the most vulnerable.

According to Asmita Publication House data around 200,000 Nepalese girls have been sold into prostitution inside various cities of India. ABC/Nepal has also said as long ago as 2003, that 5,000 girls are sold annually.

To date the government has not been able to come up with effective programs to stop trafficking. Existing discriminatory laws along with a lack of specific laws covering sexual assaults have further aided in the rise in the trafficking of women and girls.

Female unemployment in the cities is twice as high as male unemployment. Jobs as domestic workers are also badly paid. This high number of women and girls who are forced into trafficked is not surprising.

Traffickers exploit the vulnerability of women who have fled their homes because of poverty.Trafficking of increasingly larger numbers of teenage girls instead of women is disturbing. Girl-trafficking from the Bhutanese refugee camps have also been reported. Gulf countries are fast becoming a destination for the trafficking.

WNN: Has any recent legislation in Nepal been brought forward to protect the girls and women who are facing these cross-border crimes?


The Nepal government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Nepal’s law enforcement efforts against trafficking are limited due to continuing political instability and a severe lack of resources. Nepal has ratified a number of international anti-trafficking conventions, human rights treaties and labor conventions. In 1995, the Nepal Government adopted a 13-point policy on combating trafficking and it was revised in 2001.

The Government has also formulated and implemented  policies on gender equality and women empowerment to implement the 12 critical areas of Action Plan of the Beijing Declaration.  The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the issue of trafficking for the first time in its Ninth Summit held in the Maldives in May 12-14, 1997 where South Asian leaders agreed to mention the issue in its declaration.

The aim of the Human Trafficking (Control) Act 2007 is to control the sale and trafficking of persons and to protect and rehabilitate the trafficked victims and survivors. Political instability inside Nepal though has hindered efforts in fighting against sex-trafficking and all forms of human trafficking.  Forced labor of women and girls, especially from oppressed groups such as the Dalits are prevalent.

WNN: What do you feel are some of the sustainable solutions to slowing down human trafficking as part of the corrupt labor practices inside Nepal? Do you think there’s a way to take away the motive for women and children to go away with criminals in hopes of a better life?


A coordinated government approach is central to an effective solution.

The government of Nepal and NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations] can make a remarkable contribution to combat the problem because they can be the focal points for the development of a doable policy at district levels.

In my opinion income generation strategies are needed, including greater training, credit and enterprise opportunities within Nepal. There’s also an urgent need for better protection programs. We have to develop a packaged program focusing first on assisting these girls and young women. We need to support educational programs that will also help.

A support group at the community level will be helpful. A rehabilitation program should be developed to provide counseling which will help survivors of human trafficking cope with the psychological disturbances that result from their traumatic experiences.

Unless rural women’s grievances, related to poverty, exclusion and poor service delivery, are effectively dealt with trafficking of persons will rise no matter how successful actions in other areas may be.

The solutions process though cannot go forward without real programs. Working in partnership with international organizations, Nepal’s government must focus on reaching the goal of prevention through information, and education.

WNN: Women News Network has had an ongoing petition drive online that has been working to push Google Inc to stop publishing those “pretty lady” ads that can still be seen profusely online if certain words, like “Ukrainian Women” are placed in any Google search box. Today these ads continue to contribute to a billion dollar industry involved in the forced sexual slavery of women and girls around the world. What would you suggest everyone in the western world do now to help stop these kinds of crime?

Nepalese prostitutes in Mumbai, India
Nepalese prostitutes in Mumbai, India. Imge: Leon Meerson


Well you have been doing great work. Women News Network is founded on the belief that educating people on women’s empowerment and freedom and this has been working.

At present our public media publishes mostly political news and articles. The global socio-economy in the trafficking of women, along with topics of empowerment and equality for women, constitute a much smaller space.

Very few newspapers and magazines today publish worthy materials related to women. Media like WNN has an important role in the process of education, awareness and resolution.  WNN can and should play a crucial role in explaining women’s current problems as it offers an alternative space for solutions.

It’s time for us to recognize your organization for all your hard work and continuous support in promoting women’s empowerment. You are able to explain about readers and women feel as if their own emotional voices are reflected while reading your writings. There is no doubt about your creativity, sincerity and commitment.

WNN: Thank you Kamala. We do feel strongly that non-corporate news is key to bringing topics to the public highlighting solutions to global problems that often go unsolved. Because of this we’ve been quoted in numerous foreign policy documents, like the U.S. Department of State, Special Congressional Commissions and the U.S. Department of Justice. We’ve also been quoted in UK House and numerous other national reports as well as UN tribunal court cases.

About Nepal: can you share with us the current conditions you see for rural Nepalese girls today? Is anything changing? As you know too often these girls are married too young, marginalized or pushed to the side by their own families.

Do you feel that better and stronger education for girls is now starting to reach the rural areas in Nepal? Obviously this would help the situation.


Yes. Most women and children living in poor areas of Nepal are economically the most vulnerable population group. This is because rural women have limited access to employment and education. Nepal’s borders, especially into India, is one of the main highways for the trafficking of women and girls.

It’s not just strangers who betray young women or girls by getting them to go with away to India or other destinations. Too often these women and girls from rural areas are sold by their own relatives for survival money.

As Nepal’s economy drops the business of trafficking women grows. Traffickers recruit women and children through false employment advertisements, most for domestic workers. Much of the trafficking has produced a health epidemic and these women are more vulnerable to HIV-AIDS.

When a girl or young woman is tricked into the brothels in Bombay they often never return home again. Many of these women have children in the brothels.

If they do too often they are not accepted back home again.

WNN: How do you feel the children of these women fare?


Many trafficked, then displaced and returned, women and their children can still be found in living without adequate shelter. It is important to note that most women suffer the impacts of sex-trafficking as prostitution along with HIV in multiple ways.

Their children commonly experience abuse.  They are often deprived of rights to housing, education or even adequate health services.

Nepal is a region where rural women and girls are too often not given a chance to achieve and reach their potential.

WNN: Do you think  micro-loans and/or increased schools in the rural areas would make a dent in the problems?


Yes. In my opinion, special programs must be given to encourage employment and education in the rural areas.

For this reason, alternative income generation strategies are needed. Since they have a limited access to employment, women without economic protection are the first to be constrained and tricked into sexual transactions due to lack of alternatives.

Long-term strategies will depend on improving women’s economic and social status.

WNN: Do you feel Dalit women and girls are more susceptible to exploitation. If so why?


As you know, there are many customs in Nepal like cast discrimination where societal practices can cause violence against young women and also foster sex-trafficking.

Women from minority groups, such as refugee women or ethnic women living in remote communities, are especially targeted as victims of human trafficking.

WNN: Can you share with us more about your own personal work to help the women and girls of Nepal.


As an editor for mediaforfreedom.com I write investigative and analytical articles covering women’s development, human trafficking, freedom and economic development.

I am also a participant in the global anti-trafficking movement through women’s development programs. My job with this is to help raise issues concerning women’s rights.

I believe that my writing through mediaforfreedom.com contributes to strengthen women’s voices through publications, which can at least support and build advocacy for women’s human rights. Mediaforfreedom.com believes in free press, human rights and socio/economic development for women and girls through rights.

WNN: Thank you for sharing your perspectives with us today.


Thank you for reaching out Lys.


“Sita went to Malaysia dreaming of a job in either a hotel or a school. But, as soon as she landed at the airport, she learned that she had been deceived by the recruitment agent and was forced to work as a maid in a private house where she was subjected to physical and mental abuse,” said Niyama Rai from The Asia Foundation.

This short (20 mins) documentary demonstrates the accomplishment of USAID and civil society members with their ongoing efforts to combat trafficking in Nepal. By providing a glimpse of victims’ lives, it showcases the successes and challenges to protect victims, prosecute traffickers, and prevent trafficking.

(Please activate the video quality setting to 480p or 720p HD using the settings icon for better viewing)

Journalist and editor Ms. Kamala Budhathoki Sarup grew up in Nepal and today with a M.A. in journalism and a post graduate diploma in Mass Communication in New Delhi, India she specializes in reporting news and writing stories covering peace, justice and advocacy from her location inside the United States. Human rights and women, democracy and development are also part of the work she is actively pursuing. As part of the early team with Asmita Women’s Publications and Magazine inside Nepal, Sarup has also written numerous reports which includes “Women’s Empowerment in South Asia,” “Nepal, Prevention of Trafficking in Women Through Media,” and “Efforts to Prevent Trafficking for Media Activism.” You can see her work online now via her website Media for Freedom.

WNN – Women News Network founder, executive editor and human rights journalist Lys Anzia was the first woman on the programming board for Public TV Channel12 KBDI in Denver, Colorado (U.S.) in 1980. She later worked as an award-winning playwright, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a United Nations host and panelist on news in today’s digital media. Lys’s early career also began in public radio as an intern with Pacifica affiliate radio station WPFW-FM in Washington, D.C. In 2013 she joined leaders from the Pulitzer Center, Bloomberg News and Al Jazeera America for a fellowship on religion, journalism and the news. That same year she received formal recognition from the U.S. California State Legislature, both republican and democratic members, for her “…dedication and commitment to independent global journalism.”


Recognized by UNESCO for ‘Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics” WNN began as a solo project. Today it brings news stories on women from 5+ global regions to the attention of international ‘change-makers’ including over 600 NGO affiliates and United Nations agencies.


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