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Human trafficking in Nepal: a man-made havoc unleashed by a natural calamity

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By Sreyashi Mazumdar

Cracking down upon the vivacity of the overarching mountains and the lush greenery, the amiable laughs and an affable brouhaha, the recent earthquake that had struck the Himalayan nation has not only juddered it but has also left its people at the mercy of conspirators and connivers. Amid the monotony and surging humdrum, the wreckage doled out by the calamity has given way to a series of incessant cries vociferously protesting the injustice put forth by few unscrupulous beings, fleshing out episodes of inhumanity and consolidating the unbridled, illicit trade of human trafficking in the nation.

The earthquake that struck the Himalayan nation, apart from wreaking havoc on its nature and environment, has also opened up a pathway for human trafficking in Nepal, which takes place in the name of help to brighten up their future.

“Three months after a major earthquake shook Nepal, the biggest threat is not disease or further tremors but child trafficking” – UNICEF

Keeping in line with the aforementioned statement by the UNICEF, there seems to be an escalation of human trafficking owing to the nation and its citizenry being in a state of limbo. Despite the relentless efforts put forth by the government officials and other international help in diluting the havoc through reconstruction and medical aid, there has been a marked rise in the number of trafficking cases.

According to a UNICEF report, around 12,000 to 15,000 Nepalese children are trafficked to India every year. A majority of the girls are forced into prostitution and are taken to gulf countries, Africa or are sold to brothel owners in India.

Taking advantage of the prevailing poverty, traffickers trick the vulnerable parents into their trap by assuring them of providing amenities and steady financial assistance that would strengthen their children’s future.

Virginia Perez, chief of child protection for UNICEF in Nepal, said that children are unnecessarily separated from their families and placed in institutions with fake promises of access to health, education and other services. But the reality is that they are being “exploited” by privately run shelter homes and orphanages that ignore the best interests of the child and “want to make profit.”

A Huffington Post report states that around 245 children have been rescued from getting trafficked or illegally placed in children’s care homes.

“The traffickers promise education, meals and a better future. But, the reality is that many of these children could end up being horrendously exploited and abused,” Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF’s Nepal representative, said.

Further, in some cases the parents are forced to relinquish their children, after which the hapless children are admitted to orphanages with dilapidated conditions.

Then these children are used as bait to garner voluminous funds from volunteers, donors and rich families.

Shakti Samuha, an NGO in Nepal, which has been relentlessly trying to curb the malpractice of trafficking unravelled the nuances of the trade. According to the organization, a calamitous situation is apt for the criminals to kick off their wretched deeds; this is the time when brokers, in the name of relief, go to kidnap or lure women.

Nevertheless, the NGO has been making honest efforts to make the locales of the earthquake-hit nation aware of such gory and horrific traps where a woman or child gets lured and thrown into excruciating conditions.

While paging through the annals of past, one might run into the root-cause triggering such a consolidation of the trade engulfing the country – a unique Nepalese cultural system known as Deukis.

As per this custom rich Zamindars’ whose wives fail to gestate babies procure girls from poor Nepalese families and keep them as their slaves or mistresses to produce babies. These girls get inducted in the household through temple rituals. On their 30th year or thereafter, these girls are forced into prostitution.

Considering a UN special report on violence against women, as formulated by Radhika Coomaraswamy, an internationally acclaimed human rights advocate, there has been an increase in the number of Deuki girls from a 12000 in 1992 to 30,000 in 2007.

Therefore, an escalation in the rate of human trafficking is predated by an ingrained culture that has been a part and parcel of this nation for a prolonged period now.

The grisly situation has been befittingly quoted by Damayanti Dutta in an India Today report on human trafficking in Nepal after the damage let loose by the earthquake in the month of April, “The earthquake has unleashed another sordid man-made tragedy on Nepal.” She further adds, “I will always remember those dysfunctional lives …terrible things are happening to Nepal and India has a huge responsibility.”

In a bid to crack down upon the illicit trade, the Nepalese government and organizations like UNICEF have undertaken several corrective steps. According to a Huffington post report, the UNICEF has set up around 84 checkpoints throughout the country in collaboration with NGOs like Maiti, in 12 sensitive points along the India and China border.

Besides that, the organization has also apprised 25 airline companies of the need to screen passengers properly in a bid to ensure that children travelling aboard are accompanied by at least one of the parents or an authorized guardian. It has also circulated 40,000 handbills in order to educate the public and sensitize them.

As cited in Reuters, the Nepal government has put a complete ban on children travelling alone without parents. According to a senior official of the district child welfare board, children under 16 have been completely forbidden from travelling all alone without a parent or an authorized adult.

“If strangers are found travelling with children they will be under the watch of the police,” said an official from the Ministry of Women, as quoted in Reuters.

The recent crackdown that busted two Air India staffs gives an inkling of the efforts made by the Indian government to cease the malpractice. According to reports, the culprits were found fudging documents of 7 Nepalese women who were being taken to Dubai without adhering to any prior immigration clearance. The miscreants were nabbed by the Delhi police.

Mulling over the severity of the issue, one would end up concluding that the wrongdoing can be diluted only if the Nepal government works hand in glove with other international organizations and governments and take up restorative measures in order to put an end to the macabre situation looming over the Himalayan nation. Further, the Indian government requires playing a major role, considering the fact that a major chunk of the trafficked women or girls is forced into brothel houses based in India.

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Bride Sale in India: Buy A Wife Policy

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Human Trafficking
Bride Slavery in India: Abhishek Suresh

Bride Sale: Story of transformation of Indian Bride into Slave Bride

Samridhi Nain

Bride Sale in India seems to be trending in Haryana, a state with the lowest sex ratio, even marriage continues to be a way of exploitation as Indian brides for marriage are purchased at cattle rate and trafficked into the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
These ‘brides’ are imported from poverty-stricken states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Orrisa, West Bengal & Assam, where the traffickers either take advantage of the family’s poverty or abduct the young girls varying anywhere between the ages of 15 and 30, according to 2013 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
The bride sale practice has been completely normal in the northern states due to the acute shortage of girls because of practices like sex selection and female foeticide. But if the reports are to be believed then even if not a single case of female foeticide takes place in Haryana, it would still take 50 years to get the numbers back to normal from India’s sex ratio today. However, the problem remains as locals & Khap leaders keep refusing to accept the facts at hand. Some believe it is the education of women that is the root problem because they want to marry a man who is also well-educated, whereas some believe that there has always been a shortage of girls but before where one woman would take care of five brothers, now, it requires five separate women to do the same.
As Haryana keeps preferring the male child and that male child grows up to prefer a bride, the best solution available at hand remains of these women who are bought at a price varying on their age, beauty & virginity and once bought, they are turned into a slave bride. Once married, these women can be resold as they are not viewed as a respected member but a commodity as they are not considered to be entitled to any inheritance by the family.
Human Trafficking to Bride Sale
Stencil of Missing Girls Project, Wikimedia Commons
A field study, covering 92 villages of Mahendragarh, Sirsa, Karnal, Sonipat & Mewat districts had been conducted on the impact of the sex ratio on marriage which covered over 10,000 households and found that 9,000 married women were bought from other states. The study was conducted by NGO Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra but the families kept denying of any exchange of money for the bride.
In 2016, the ministry of women and child development came up with India’s first comprehensive anti-trafficking laws under ‘Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection & Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 but the bill faces many challenges and is believed to not achieve its objectives of preventing trafficking & providing protection & rehabilitation to trafficked victims. Activists also believe that the bill will be able to do very little to stop the bride sale.
With such haunting demographics at hand, the hope still remains that sooner or later, the government might realize the need for stringent implementation of the rules & regulations to stop the violation of these young women at the hands of sex traffickers and quell this ‘Buy A Bride’ policy.
-Samridhi is a student of Philosophy Hons. at the University of Delhi.

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UN Brings the World Together to Fight Violence Against Women and Girls; 1 in Every 3 Women Currently Face Gender-based Oppression Globally

A third of all women experience violence at some point in their lives, and that figure is twice as high in some countries, according to the United Nations

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Violence against women
Head of U.N. Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks on stage at WE Day U.N. at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, in New York City (VOA)

United Nations, September 21, 2017 : World leaders meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday launched a half-billion-dollar effort to end violence against women and girls, a crime suffered by 1 in 3 in their lifetimes.

The effort will fund anti-violence programs that promote prevention, bolster government policies and provide women and girls with improved access to services”, organizers said.

It will take particular aim at all categories of violence against women- human trafficking, femicide and family violence.

A third of all women experience violence at some point in their lives, and that figure is twice as high in some countries, according to the United Nations.

“Gender-based violence is the most dehumanizing form of gender oppression. It exists in every society, in every country rich and poor, in every religion and in every culture,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of U.N. Women, said as the United Nations held its annual General Assembly.

“If there was anything that was ever universal, it is gender inequality and the violence that it breeds against women,” she said.

In other forms of violence against women and girls, more than 700 million women worldwide were married before they were 18, and at least 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries, according to U.N. figures.

The initiative of 500 million euros (US$595 million) was launched by the U.N. and the European Union, which is its main contributor, organizers said.

“The initiative has great power,” said Ashley Judd, a Hollywood actress and goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) who participated in Wednesday’s announcement.

ALSO READ Violence against Women and Girls Imposes Large-scale Costs on Families, Communities and Economies, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

“There are already so many effective, research-based, data-driven programs,” Judd told the Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of the announcement. “Financing for existing programs is a beautiful thing.

“It also makes an incredibly powerful statement to show that the world is increasingly cohesive around stopping gender-based violence,” she said. (VOA)

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Ancient Hindu Temple Changu Narayan in Nepal Possesses Historical Significance

Changu Narayan is a sacred Hindu temple in Nepal and was built in the memory of Lord Vishnu

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Changu Narayan Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in Nepal. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Changu Narayan is considered to be the oldest temple in Nepal
  • It is based on a high hilltop know was Changu or Dolagiri
  • It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has an interesting tale behind it

New Delhi, July 14, 2017: The ancient Hindu temple Changu Narayan is situated on the top of a high hill well known as Changu or Dolagiri. The temple had a neighboring forest of champak tree and a small village called Changu and is situated in Bhaktapur District, Nepal.

The hill is about 7 miles or 12 km east of Kathmandu and a few miles north of Bhaktapur. This holy place “changu narayan Temple” is devoted to Lord Vishnu and held in admiration by the people of Hindu religion. Changu Narayan is believed to be the oldest temple in Nepal’s history. Bhaktapur king established kingdoms in Kashmir and kept it as Hindu kingdom.

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“changu narayan Temple” has a very intriguing story behind its existence. In old times, a Gwala, a cow herder, was given a cow by a Brahmin whose name was Sudarshan. The cow was believed to produce milk in large quantities. The cow herder used to take the cow for grazing to Change, which was a Champak trees forest that time. The cow was always found under a particular tree’s shade while grazing. In the evening, when the Gwala started milking the cow at his house, he received only a negligible quantity of milk. This continued for a number of days. He was disappointed and told the Brahmin about the cow not giving enough quantity of milk. After seeing this incident with his eyes, Sudarshan agreed and they decided that they should examine the cow while her grazing activity was being undertaken.

Changu Narayan Temple, east side, with the griffin (stone sculpture) left at the entrance. Source: Wikimedia

Both of them hid behind the trees and observed the cow. They noticed that a small black boy who had come out of the tree started feeding himself with the milk. This infuriated the two men as they thought of the boy as a demon and the tree as its home.

So the champak tree was cut down by the Brahmin. While he was doing this, he saw human blood come out of the champak tree. Both Brahmin and Gwala presumed they had done a crime and started crying.

Lord Vishnu suddenly emerged and told the Gwala and Brahmin, the mistake was not theirs and began narrating the story of him committing a crime by unknowingly murdering Sudarshan’s father while forest hunting. Afterward, he was cursed and he wandered on his mouth, as ‘Garuda’ descending on the Changu hill where he survived on stolen milk. The cutting down of the tree by Brahmin beheaded Vishnu and freed him from his sins.

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Following this incident, Brahmin and Gwala started worshiping that place and built a small temple of Lord Vishnu. That place has been considered sacred ever since. Even today, Sudarshan’s descendant is one of the priest of that temple and the Gwala’s descendants as conservators.

People belonging to Newar community reside in and around the area of Changu Narayan. Due to tourism development in this area, we can locate many hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants etc.

However, this holy temple “changu narayan” faces a lot of challenges and threats. The Manohara stream has witnessed rampant mining of sand and stones. The local administration has failed to cut down the mining activities. Due to these mining activities, the temple area has become prone to landslides. Because of overgrazing in the nearby forest, the chances of soil erosion and landslide have become very high.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025