South Asia’s sex trade myths


Nepal was the original maker of the myth of trafficking in the regional and international community. Gita and her drugged Frooti established the precedent in South Asia for heart- and wallet-wrenching sensationalism. The persistence of the myth has put Nepals discourse significantly behind that of other South Asian countries. While the majority of attention on trafficking is placed on several "danger districts", which happen to surround Kathmandu Valley, it is painfully obvious that these sparsely-populated districts cannot account for the large number of Nepali girls and women selling sex in India. Nepal has a number of maturing rural NGOs which have significant knowledge of trafficking patterns across the country, but their knowledge has generally been ignored because the trafficking arena is dominated by Kathmandu-based "power NGOs" and international donors in their thrall.

The perception of "trafficking" has evolved very little over the last decade. Among NGOs and government people, there is a strong denial of families direct, willing involvement in selling their children; in general, families are conceived to have been either duped or coerced by abject poverty. Those fighting trafficking almost universally deny that the girls involved may have prior knowledge that they are going to enter sex work. In-country trafficking is ignored, despite evidence from grassroots NGOs and international-NGOS that traffickers are "shopping" in the hills for girls to serve in the brothels of Biratnagar, Kathmandu and Pokhara.

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Himal Southasian