Where Is Our Daughter
Bombay’s red light district is notorious for being the endpoint of a flesh trade that has taken thousands of young Nepali girls from the poverty of hill villages to the raw decadence of a cosmopolitan city. The diversion, enticement and/or kidnapping of Nepali girls to Bombay has found expression in Mira Nair’s internationally acclaimed film on street children, Salaam Bombay!
In the film, a Nepali virgin-prostitute known as “Solasaal” becomes the object of love Krishna, a street child and the hero of the film. Solasaal tries rebelliously to flee her kothi with Krishna, but is tamed into submission by a false promise of love from Baba, a pimp and drug dealer. Eventually, she and her purity are sold for 10,000 rupees.
“We chose to make the character a Nepali because that is what is very common in the red light district,” says writer-director Mira Nair. “It’s classical. And, actually, Solasaal’s character is inspired by a real story.”
The last we see of Solasaal in the film is her being driven away in an Ambassador car by her purchaser (picture). Her real life counterpart, however, had a different “script”. Her rebellion caused a great stir, and she was sent back to the hills of Nepal, according to Nair.
Back in those Nepali hills, the trafficking of girl children to India is especially acute in the districts around Kathmandu — Sindhupalchowk, Kavre and Nuwakot. These are labelled “high risk” areas by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, but the crime occurs many times every day, all over the country.
When girls are sent to India they are lost, their families rarely if ever seeing or hearing from them again. On the few occasions they do return, girls today bring back, not gifts, but venereal disease, skin infections, drug addictions, mental disorders and unwanted pregnancies, and, almost certainly, the new disease, Acquired Immune Deficiency (AIDS).
The collaboration in trafficking usually involves village neighbors of the victim and sometimes her own family. According to case studies compiled by Prabha Basnet of the Ministry for Labour and Social Welfare, there are instances when fathers have sold their own daughters. In one case, a husband even sold his own pregnant wife. The Ministry presently houses seven girls in the “Nari Kalin Griha” who were rescued while enroute to India, the youngest of whom is 13.