Deconstructing Gita

Gita Danuwar (above) was sold in Bombay by a cousin. After nine years, she is back in her home village near Kathmandu. Although she has HIV, Gita hoes her terrace farm while her father weeds. However, most women and children enter prostitution not because they are 'forced', but because they have no alternatives. Family-based sex trade is an increasingly common response to poverty and a significant source of rural income.

This is an essay not only about the situation of the trafficking of girls and women in South Asia, but about the 'discourse' on this issue – the consensus view of trafficking that is presented by the media, non-governmental groups, donor agencies and governments. It is the discourse which determines what is to be done about the problem, but if the discourse does not relate to reality, interventions do not work, funds are wasted, and people continue to suffer.

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Himal Southasian