Sunday, 2 September 2012

Girls trafficking culture in Tamang community of Nepal: WHY and HOW it has established?

Though I belong to Tamang community I am from the eastern part of Nepal, Sunsari district Dharan and had grown up in a mix society of different castes/ethnicity. Therefore, although my surname is "Tamang" I never ever felt that I belong to Tamang community since I don't speak Tamang language nor do I have good knowledge about Tamang's culture and tradition. In my family only my mother can speaks Tamang language but my father and my four siblings don't understand and speak Tamang language like me. 
First time in my life in 1995 while I was working for Koshi Zonal Hospital as a registered nurse I got an opportunity to receive Mental Health Training in Mental Hospital of Lalitpur district in Kathmandu valley. During the training period my residential stay had been arranged by the training organizer at Aasha Deep Nepal, a rehabilitation centre for mentally ill people. From their when home visits were made to follow up rehabilitated mentally ill patients in Kavre district along with Aasha Deep Nepal staff member he told me that in this district despite people are very much socioeconomically backward and deprived but all the houses with corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheet roofs had their daughter in Indian brothels for sex trade because surrounding Kathmandu valley Tamang people sell their daughter to India for their income. He also told me that Tamang people of these areas are very much happy when daughters are born and become sad when sons are born. Hearing such I was shocked and amazed thus couldn't even imagine how anyone can do such an evil and devil act against their own daughters. 
In 1996 after I joined an NGO, Women's Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) based in Kathmandu again I heard the same stories. Staff members at WOREC told me that many girls from Tamang community have been trafficked for sex trade by their own fathers and brothers and taken them to sell in brothels in India. This made me wonder why these Tamang people surrounding Kathmandu valley are doing such to their own daughters and sisters.
As my developmental sector career started from WOREC in 1996 and by joining this organisation I got the opportunity to work with trafficked girls returned from Indian brothels. First time in Nepal, NGO sector challenged government of Nepal by bringing trafficked girls from Indian brothels. Of the five NGOs namely, Maiti Nepal, ABC Nepal, Shanti Nepal and Navajyoti Kendra including WOREC, out of 121 returnees WOREC received 11 girls initially to facilitate them in the rehabilitation and reintegration to their families and societies. After a month eight more girls were received, which means total 19 girls were accommodated by WOREC and I was the one who was responsible to look after them since I've been assigned as a Rehabilitation Incharge and Warden of the Centre. Of the many girls returned India were from castes/ethnicities but came to know from them that mainly Tamang girls are the one trafficked to India and also brothel owners are also mainly Tamang women. I was surprised hearing the same stories third time in my life from trafficked girls. 
When I first heard about Tamang people selling their daughter from Aasha Deep Nepal staff member I listened and ignored. But when I heard about the same story second time from WOREC staff member I started to wonder WHY Tamang people surrounding Kathmandu valley are doing such. Then when I heard third time the same stories from the trafficked girls started to deeply and critically wonder WHY Tamang family residing surroundings to Kathmandu, capital city of Nepal are doing such criminal act to their own believed daughters, sisters and wives.
Reading the news, articles, documents and hearing such news from media and also from those brothel returnee girls came to learn that in Nepal, Tamang community is the number one in supplying and selling their daughters to India [1, 2]. It is interesting to know from the history that in the late 17th century, the brothel area of Kamathipura was first established to service British troops in what was then called Bombay, India [1, 2]. Moreover, adjoining districts to Kathmandu namely, Sindhuplachowk, Kavre, Nuwakot, Dhading and Makwanpur where Tamang community are densely reside girls have been trafficking since ancient times. It is really annoying to read that "Sex sells and girls from villages like Ichowk, Mahankal and Talmarang in the Sindhupalchowk district in northern central Nepal are full of girls who are more than anxious for a better life."  Moreover, Tamang girls have been victims of trafficking for generations. This is not just because of the ignorance, illiteracy but due to political reasons and grand designed plan of former rulers, Ranas and Shahs rather. Everyone says it is because of the poverty and lack of education but I do not agree with this because there are many communities such as dalit (untouchables), Tharu, Chepang including other castes/ethnicities who are relatively marginalised and poor compared to Tamang but their daughters and girls are not  trafficked and sell for sexual affair.
Exploring historical background of Nepal I came to realized that Tamang ethnic group being largest and surrounding to the Kathmandu valley was always threat to Nepal's rulers that's the reason they had been strategically marginalized since 18th century formulating state law categorizing them as an Enslaveable Alcohol Drinker in hierarchical classification they fall under 3rd group of caste/ ethnicity. Men from Tamang ethnic were not allow to join any security forces such as Army and Police. They were used as a porter "Pipa" of rulers and of the Kathmandu valley and their girls and daughters had been used for sex trade both within and outside Nepal to GENOCIDE them. In the Royal Palace Tamang girls were used as a sex slave, concubine and also some of them sold toe. Therefore, girls trafficking in Tamang community is a political issue that has been started from Sindhupalchok, a home district of  an influential politician of Nepal during the regime of kingship, currently chairman of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP = National Democratic Party)Pashupati Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana. He had hold important positions in the representative system of Panchayat devised by King Mahendra, in particular he was Minister of State for ' Education (1977-78) with the addition of Transport and Tourism (1978-79), Minister for Water Resources (1983-84) with Communications (1984-86), Minister for Panchayat and local Development (1986- 88). After the end of the panchayat, he was Minister for Foreign Affairs, for Finance, Water Resources and Communications (1990-1994) and Minister for Water Resources (1995-97 and 1997-98). Pashupati SJB Rana has been continuously represented in Parliament from 1973 to 2006. Similarly, in Nuwakot Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohini from the same political background had been in the top political appointment as a Member National Legislature, Kingdom of Nepal, Kathmandu, 1971—1975, 1981, National Development Council, Kathmandu. He was a Finance minister His Majesty's Government of Nepal, since 1983 and also a Minister of housing and physical planning. Dr. Lohini electoral area is the same area of Nuwakot district where hub of girls trafficking in Nepal is considered. These include Ghyangphedi and Sikharbesi village development committees, the place just opposite to Sindhupalchowk district's village development committee "Helambu" from where girls used to bring to the palaces in Kathmandu as a sex slave and concubine since 19th Century. Although the precursors to trafficking can even be traced back to the Rana Regime, when young girls from Sindhupalchok, Kavre and Nuwakot used to be brought to the palaces in Kathmandu as concubines but thereafter these both politicians could be the main hidden Mafia in promoting the industry in the trafficking of Nepali girls, especially Tamang is a very lucrative business. It can include forced labor, domestic and factory work [2]. Young girls who are teenagers are often used in the sex-trafficking industries, though, because of the extreme profit for traffickers and the very low incidence of law enforcement arrests against sex-industry racketeers.
Historical evidence suggested India ruled by British rulers in order to fulfill sexual pleasure and satisfaction of  the British troops of East India Company girls from surrounding Kathmandu valley mainly from Tamang community started to supply in 19th century during Rana Regime. 
Analyzing how rulers rule in this world or any society has interesting strategy. In fact, they rule by naming, shaming and blaming those people who they think are their enemy due to either large number of population or historically challenge rulers. In fact, rulers and ruling class, color, creed and caste male members strategy of Nepal has always to degrade, dominate, discriminate and despair rest of the population of Nepal proven from their intentional action and reaction to date that almost each and every Nepalese had gained experiential understanding and knowledge about it.
As a nurse when I first came to Kathmandu in 1995 to obtain my training on Mental Health as I said earlier I heard about how Tamang people surrounding areas of the Kathmandu valley sell their daughters to earn money forcing them to do sex trade in India. From that time I have been keep hearing and reading articles from national newspapers and media about it.
I realized that always ruling class, color, creed and caste of Nepal just LOVE to play BLAME GAME to historically marginalized and deprived ethnic tribe of Nepal, "Tamang" accusing them famously socially naming and shaming ethnic as whole as a "Daughter seller ethnicity (छोरी बेच्ने जाति)" without knowing historical facts and figures HOW and WHY feudal Rana Regime of Nepal started to trafficked inhabitants of the surrounding districts of the Kathmandu valley daughters to serve as concubines for the Rana rulers and their families male members.
Being a learned person it is disgusting to read following evidences about girls trafficking in Nepal.
Human Rights Watch/Asia report of 1995 reports [3]:
"Human Rights Watch/Asia chose to focus on Bombay because it appears to have the highest concentration of Nepali girls and women in prostitution. In Bombay, according to the calculations of an organization of Nepali brothel staff, there are about 20,000 Nepalis in the city's flesh trade -- other agencies estimate that the actual number is closer to 50,000. Most of these women and girls work for Nepali gharwalis (madams), and almost all are illiterate. Seventy percent are thought to belong to ethnic minority groups such as the Tamang, Gurung, Magar, and Sherpa. Women and girls from Nepal's Hindu majority communities comprise about ten to fifteen percent. Sixty percent of these girls and women are thought to have contracted HIV.
For decades, members of these largely Buddhist communities like the Tamangs (the preponderant majority), Sherpas, Lamas and Gurungs have been targeted by brokers who supply women and girls to Indian brothels, children of both sexes for work in carpet and garment factories in Nepal and India, and people of all ages for road building and construction. The Tamangs live in large numbers in the remote hill villages of Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre and Dhading districts, but the search for jobs has scattered them in small numbers throughout the country.
Trafficking of women from Nepal's hill communities began in the nineteenth century, when the feudal Rana family, a line of prime ministers who ruled Nepal from 1846 to 1951, began recruiting Tamang girls from the Helambu (Yolmo) region of Sindhupalchowk, northeast of Kathmandu, to serve as concubines for the ruler and his family. Owning concubines, or "Helambu girls," became a mark of high social status. The oligarchical Rana regime was overthrown by the hereditary monarchy in 1951, but the recruitment of women and girls continued, only now they were sold to brothel owners in India's red-light districts. The internationalization of trafficking in girls and women was due in part to a political alliance forged between Nepal and India in the last days of the Rana regime that opened the border between the two countries for travel and trade.
Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok and other hill districts in the Bagmati Zone around Kathmandu became particularly notorious for trafficking. But as Indian demand for Nepali prostitutes grew, and the threat of AIDS increased the demand for new girls, girls from many castes and communities and from other regions of Nepal were recruited for sale in Indian brothels. Today, instances of forced trafficking of women and girls for prostitution in India have been reported in virtually every district of Nepal and from all castes and ethnic groups.
Tamang peasants are among Nepal's most impoverished minority groups. Today, according to Jyothi Sanghera, an activist who presented her findings to the U.N. Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in 1991, an average Tamang family owns less than one hectare of unirrigated land. Most were already tenants before Nepal implemented a series of land reform acts in the 1950s, at which time the vast majority were evicted -- left landless or with small plots of arid land on steep hill slopes. No longer able to survive on subsistence farming, and with virtually no access to education or other means of entry into a cash-based economy, the Tamang were forced to migrate in search of other means of support. They found it in low-paying seasonal work as porters or manual laborers in the lowlands, or on road construction sites in India. Tamang men were also recruited for the Gurkha regiments of the British and Indian armies. But these communities soon found there was another, more lucrative way to earn money. "A commodity... has been created that sells, and sell[s] very well at that, in the labour market of the sex industry: the body and sexual labour of the Tamang woman...
There are two distinct patterns to the trafficking of girls and women from Nepal. The best known and oldest involves the enticement of mainly Tamang girls from hill districts where the flesh trade has become an almost traditional source of income."
Since 18th century in the Tamang community girls trafficking culture and tradition had started and established by Rana Regime, however, these days not just Tamang community but also other ethnicities and caste groups girls and women are trafficked which I myself had eye witnessed while I worked for WOREC in 1996. Of the girls whom I rehabilitated by them some girls were from Khas Arya (Dailekh district), Dalit (Lalitpur and Sundari district), Rai (Solukhumbu district) and others. In the past when feudal aristocrat rulers of Nepal had strove to degrade, dominate, discriminate and marginalized Tamang community living in the surrounding Kathmandu valley now even ruling class color, creed and caste community members female members have been becoming a victim of girls trafficking. No wonder why an ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius had said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
It has proven that girls trafficking is a very lucrative business for male who had been involving in politics because for politicians there is no other means in Nepal to generate income which they need for election and also to keep their followers in close contact bribing them. This is one of the reason why corruption is very much deeply rooted in Nepalese society among political parties.
It is always disgusting to hear and read how the innocent and ignorant girls and women from rural and deprived communities have been still trafficking in large numbers from Nepal to India and rest of the world especially in middle east and Africa in the later years. Below are the facts and figures about it [4]. 
"The trafficking of girls from Nepal into India for forced prostitution is perhaps one of the busiest slave trafficking routes anywhere in the world, with estimated 5,000-10,000 Nepali women and girls trafficked to India each year.[6][8] An estimated 100,000-200,000 Nepali trafficked persons are in India.[9] Nepali girls are especially desirable as prostitutes in India because they are considered more attractive due to their lighter skin color, and because Nepali virgins are believed to be able to cure AIDS.[10]" [4]
  • Nepal and Bangladesh are the main source countries in south Asia for trafficked children. (Masako Iijima, "S. Asia urged to unite against child prostitution," Reuters, 19 June 1998)
  • The trafficking of girls from Nepal into India for the purpose of prostitution is probably the busiest 'slave traffic' of its kind anywhere in the world. (Tim McGirk, "Nepal's Lost Daughters, 'India's soiled goods," Nepal/India: News, 27 January 1997)
  • In Nepal, trafficking has become a highly profitable business, with high profile political connections. Nepali, Bangaldeshi and Pakistani women are trafficked to India, and through India they are trafficked to Eastern Europe and Saudi Arabia. (Interview with Meena Poudel, Programme Coordinator of Oxfam Nepal, 18 March 1998)
  • More than 9,000 girls are trafficked each year from Nepal and Bangladesh into bondage in India and Pakistan, often with the acquiescence or cooperation of state officials. (, 22 April 1998)
  • Every year around 10,000 Nepalese girls, most between the age of nine and 16, are sold to brothels in India. (Tim McGirk, "Nepal's Lost Daughters, India's soiled goods," Nepal/India:News, 27 January 1997)
  • 7,000 Nepalese women and girls are trafficked for prostitution to the Asia Pacifi area. (Statement of the CATW- Asia Pacific and Philippine Women's Groups, 4th International Congress on AIDS in the Asia Pacific, 29 October 1997.
  • 5,000 Nepalese women are trafficked into India yearly. There are now 100,000 Nepalese women in India in prostitution. (CATW - Asia Pacific, Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific)'
  • More than 200,000 Nepalese girls are involved in the Indian sex trade. (Tim McGirk "Nepal's Lost Daughters, 'India's soiled goods," Nepal/India News, 27 January 1997)
  • Nepalese women who are trafficked and prostituted in debt bondage in India's sex industry are forced to work longer hours and have more clients than local women. (CATW -Asia Pacific, Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific)
  • Hong Kong is the second biggest market for trafficked Nepalese women. (CATW - Asia Pacific, Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific)
1. Awish Bohora "Challenging the Humanity: Girl Trafficking in Nepal" accessed from 
2. "Lost Daughters – An ongoing tragedy in Nepal" accessed from
3. Human Rights Watch, 1995. Rape for ProfitTrafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India's Brothels. Accessed from
4. "Human Trafficking in Nepal" accessed from

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