20-year-old Sita never knew what destiny had in store for her. Hailing from the rural community of Sindhupal Chowk of Nepal, she had lived the worst nightmare of a young girl. She was brutalized, raped, sometimes 20 or 30 times in a day, week after week, for an entire year. On protest, she was repeatedly beaten and forced to have unsafe sex. She was a victim of wrong intentions, tactically lured by someone “reliable”.
Today, an HIV positive Sita worries for other girls of her area Sindhupal Chowk which was devastated by the last month's earthquake.
Like her, tens of thousands of young girls of this area and other ravaged areas of Nepal are being lured by human traffickers running brothel networks in South Asia, after the massive earthquake that gave them an easy-opportunity.
Under the disguise as relief workers and rescue teams, they are reaching out to the sufferers looking for any sort of help. They are luring the catastrophe-stricken with jobs and marriage promises, and forcing them into sex-trade.
Sita, 20, was also lured in by “an uncle” into the sex-trade. Her naïve and illiterate parents couldn't understand the vested interests of the so-called uncle, who later sold her to a brothel running in the Indian border town Siliguri.
The campaigners in Kathmandu and other affected areas have rung the alarm bells to protect girls like Sita from getting trapped. As per UN and estimates of local NGOs, 12000 to 15000 girls are trafficked from Nepal every year. The traffickers abduct girls and force them into sex work.
The lured, innocent ones are taken to brothels running in several parts of India and are made to work in appalling conditions. Some of them are even “traded” to countries like South Korea and South Africa.
Sunita Danuwar, director of Shakti Samuha, an NGO which is spreading awareness about such people carrying ulterior motives in Nepal, told that this is the time when the brokers go in the name of relief and help to kidnap or lure young women. The devastated nation serves them as an easy-ground to victimise the helpless people.
Even the senior western aid officials present in the Kathmandu are also concerned. “There is nothing like an emergency when there is chaos for opportunities to … traffic more women. There is a great chance that everything that is bad happening in Nepal could scale up,” said one of the aid officials.
Though, Sita was rescued last year by an NGO but she continues to remain concerned for the other girls who, she fears, will get tempted by the money and job offers.
“I do not have nightmares about my time there. I have erased it from my memory”, she says.
Rashmita Shashtra, a local health worker says,” The earthquake will definitely increase the risk of abuse”. “People here are now desperate and will take any chance. There are spotters in the villages who convince family members and local brokers who do the deal. We know who they are.”
Sita has been disowned by her family now. As per the commonly spread notion in South Asia, such girls bring shame to the family. She does not know what happened to her family in the earthquake. After many difficulties, when she managed to get a line through to a brother, he refused to acknowledge her. “He said he had no sister and I had called a wrong number”.