Sunday, June 19, 2011


We all live glorified lives without ever realizing how real pain, suffering and sacrifice could be. We are so self-indulgent that nothing can completely satisfy us. We crib at not getting a pay raise, we frown when gas prices go up and we are crest-fallen if we are not able to take that big summer vacation. We request God to fulfill every small (and silly) wish we ever have and more often than not complain that he doesn’t do enough for us. But many of us do not realize that there are people who live in such despair and misery that would make our lives look trivial. Once we hear their stories, we will be grateful for the wonderful lives that we were blessed with and hopefully angry for the lives that were stolen from them.

Girl trafficking in Nepal is one such heinous act that rips apart the lives of so many young girls and women.  Gina was sold into sexual slavery at the tender age of 7. She was raped by 14 men and beaten with sticks and aluminum rods. Anita was lured by a friend and sold to a brothel at 12. She was threatened with being buried alive and forced into compliance. Maili was seized at the age of 19 with her infant daughter who was used as “insurance” to prevent Maili from fleeing. Jyoti was trafficked at the age of 12, raped, choked and forced to drink alcohol to break her resistance. There are so many such horror stories that you will need a lifetime to listen to all of them.

The child sex trade in Nepal is a highly organized syndicate that rivals the drug trade in profitability. There is a well-developed supply chain which runs from recruiters and smugglers who catch girls from villages in Nepal and transport them all the way up to urban brothel owners in Nepal and India who enslave them and corrupt policemen who help legalize the business. Heartless hungry men who rape and infect these girls complete the chain. And everyone else in this chain profits except these poor girls who pay the price with their bodies first and then later with their lives (80% get infected by HIV). For most of these girls, their Gods deserted them at a very early age.

I have always been amazed by people who dedicate their entire lives for the cause of others. How many of us can live one selfless day? Imagine doing that your entire life and you will realize the value of such a life. One such crusader is waging a battle against these traffickers and its corrupt nexus to save innocent girls from an experience that is worse than death. Ms.Anuradha Koirala started Maiti Nepal in a small house in Kathmandu with her own savings. Today she is a widely recognized activist and lecturer who has dedicated her life to combating the sexual exploitation of women and children. She is supported by her volunteers in Maiti, Nepal most of whom are rescued young women. They watch borders and prevent pimps from crossing over with innocent girls. They collaborate with local officials and others inside brothels to rescue girls. They create safe havens for these girls and slowly heal their physical and mental scars. The rescued girls spend their time in the healing center where they learn skills and participate in arts programs that rebuild their spirits. And the lesser fortunate AIDS-infected girls have a place where they can die with dignity. 

But sadly, this small movement still is no match to the powerful criminal elements and their political connections. There are still so many girls who live in a world seldom known to outsiders and suffer death every single day. Sad indeed when so much more could be done by all of us for their cause. Anuradha says, "Society rejects me and my girls, but they are the most important thing in my life." It is high time that we all embrace Anuradha and Maiti, Nepal and join her crusade to help young innocent girls live their lives the way they deserve to! 

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