Nepali girls lose innocence as Indian prostitutes
August 23, 1996
Web posted at: 11:40 p.m. EDT (0340 GMT)
From Correspondent Anita Pratap
MUMBAI, India (CNN) -- In the brothels of Mumbai, where
India's largest sex industry is located, there is a huge
demand for girls from Nepal.
"Customers like Nepali girls because they are fair-skinned,
not dark like us," one brothel manager said.
Many say Nepali girls have no sexual inhibitions, they will
respond to client requests and demands and will drink
alcoholic beverages with them, said I.S. Gilada of the Indian
"Customers ask me to drink, so I drink," one Nepali
prostitute said. Nepali girls charge 50 to 60 rupees per
customer, a little under $2. One-quarter of Mumbai's 70,000
prostitutes are Nepalis.
Every year, about 7,000 girls from the Himalayan kingdom of
Nepal are smuggled across the border to India. Most are
poor, kidnapped or lured by promises of a good job or a role
in Indian films. On average, they are just 12 or 13 years
old when they are sold to brothels for $200 to $500.
For most of them, there is no turning back. "I've been
ruined now. Something good should have happened to me when I
crossed the border. Now I've landed in a brothel here. Now,
nothing can be done," one girl said.
This year, authorities rescued nearly 300 Nepali girls and
repatriated most of them. Some of the girls have been
infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. But social
workers say many girls who are rescued return to
"They write letters pleading to be rescued from these remand
homes. They miss the fun, the independence of their
lifestyle," a brothel manager said.
Julie, a Nepali prostitute, does not want to be rescued. She
feels if she went home, she would be voluntarily entering a
life of captivity.
"As long as I am young, I'll be able to earn this way and
fill my stomach. Then I'll die in a gutter. What else?"
Her words betray the anger and pain she carries inside. "If
people torment me, can you do anything about it? Can anyone
give back my life?"
Girls like Julie feel they have no future. She wants to
know: Can anybody bring back her lost childhood? Nobody can,
but at least efforts can be made to ensure that more girls
are not doomed to her fate.
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