Subject: Nepal

Source: Kathmandu Post- Kumar Bahadur Bhatta 
                                                               
 14 Sep 1996 

Prostitution: 

Voices are being raised in support of legalising prostitution in
Nepal. They advocate that legalising prostitution would help
bachelors, widowers, separated husbands, soldiers, foreign tourists
etc. It makes the forthcoming Visit Nepal 1998 Year a success and
provides jobs to thousands of interested girls and other tourism
related professionals. It solves the unemployment problem to some
extent and reduces sex related crimes like rape and incest. 

There is nothing new in legalising the prostitution as it is practised
every where. Drinking is bad, but we have thousands of bars and liquor
shops. Gambling is bad but we have so many casinos and lottery kiosks.
Thousands of Nepali girls, specially from Sindhu Palchok, Kabhre
Palanchok, Nuwakot, Sikharbesi are sold to Indian brothels every year.
Legalising prostitution would help to cease this practice to some extent.
Kathmandu is reported to have many call girls and this system will be
discouraged. Mysterious deaths taking place near Army Headquarters and
Kathmandu Lodges would not reoccur. 

The red light area should be kept far from residential and market
areas to enable both the brothel-owners and clients to remain
undisturbed. The area should be free from goondaism. A periodic
medical check-up should be made mandatory for all in the profession.
Girls should be given some training in dancing, massaging and other
ettiquates of receiving clients. Their health must be insured. The
authority should make a provision so that clients are ensured peace
and due services for what they have paid for. Clients should not be
over charged and fleeced. A reasonable fee should be fixed for this
purpose, making it also a source of dollar earning. 

===========================================================================
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 10:27:08 CST
Subject: Nepal

In the Mid Western and Far Western regions of Nepal live a unique
group of prostitutes which maintains strong bonds resulting from
'untouchable' caste status and family tradition. Known as the Badis
(pronounced 'bod ee'), it is estimated that well over 5000 Badi
prostitutes are now actively engaged in the sex trade in Nepal. In
1991, a study of some of the social and cultural practices of this
unique group was completed. In addition to the provision of
counselling and information about STDs and AIDS, over 300 prostitutes
were interviewed about their sex practices within the Badi community.
Two hundred and twenty-eight Badi prostitutes consented to voluntary
confidential testing for VDRL, and 250 consented to anonymous,
unlinked serosurveillance for HIV-1. As previous studies have shown
moderate to high rates of HIV-1 infection among prostitutes in
general, and even higher rates of infection in low class prostitutes,
some prevalence of VDRL as well as HIV-1 was expected. However, of the
228 Badi prostitutes tested, 154 (70%) were found to be VDRL positive,
while none were found positive for HIV-1. At the same time, many of
these prostitutes reported a history of constant and often untreated
STDs. The implications for the future prevention of HIV infection in
this group are obvious and striking.

=========================================================================== Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 08:40:54 CST Subject: Kathmandu, NEPAL Nepal: Kathmandu Brothel Raid a Sign of Growing Sex Industry Inter Press Service 26-NOV-97 KATHMANDU, (Nov. 26) IPS - A sex scandal involving businessmen and dollar-paying tourists has rocked Nepal and put the spotlight on organized prostitution rings in this tranquil Himalayan Kingdom. Just how well entrenched the sex trade is in Kathmandu, the capital city, became clear two weeks ago when police raided a posh neighborhood in the city and nabbed a middle-aged couple on charges of running a high-profile sex ring catering to rich businessmen and tourists. Along with the couple, police also arrested seven young village girls and seized a diary containing the names of 40 others who are contacted regularly for work. Some of those arrested said they were forced into prostitution by the couple. The case might have been hushed up as the couple was set free after depositing a tiny amount as bail. But that sparked a public outcry, forcing police to rearrest the two and Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa to order an inquiry into the case. "We believe that this is not the only sex operation running in Kathmandu," says Bandana Rana, an activist with the women's group Saathi ("Friend"). "This case is only the tip of the iceberg." That might well be true, but just how widespread is not easy to gauge as not enough investigation has been done. However, a stroll down the back-alleys of Thamel, Kathmandu's bustling tourist center, gives an indication. The area, well known for cheap lodgings and eateries which cater to budget tourists, is littered with massage parlors, cabarets, and hundreds of street children. Local residents say the massage parlors are just a cover for illegal sex activity, and the cabarets are more semi-nude shows than dancing. "A fact about this trade is that it is more widespread in tourist areas, because operators can make a hefty sum from tourists," says NGO activist Rana. "Sex has begun to play a major role in Nepal's tourism earnings, which is unfortunate." To the dismay of activists and citizen's groups, brothels have proliferated in the capital and other urban areas, easily keeping pace with the sudden demand for sex workers in Nepal. "Though illegal, the sex trade is growing," says lawyer Gita Shangraula at the Institute of Legal Research and Resources (ILRR). "The easy availability of poor village girls in search of work and unscrupulous brokers have made the trade one of the most profitable in our tourist areas." Other contributing factors, according to activists, are the fact that as other destinations in the East -- notably Bangkok -- begin to clamp down on their own sex trade, tourists looking for equally "exotic" alternatives have begun to turn to South Asia. The widespread poverty and illiteracy in Nepal are additional reasons. In Nepal, a country of 21.6 million people, even educated women find it difficult to get work. Tourism is the country's chief industry, but anti-government strikes and continued political instability have blunted economic growth prospects. Young girls from Nepal's impoverished villages pour into Kathmandu and other tourist spots such as Pokhara -- high up in tourist destinations -- by the thousands, and are then ensnared by brokers with promises of marriage or lucrative work. Often, they end up in brothels. Many parents encourage their daughters to leave, taking money from middle-men who promise to find them jobs in the city, or even across the border in India. Some also go willingly to India, dreaming of making it rich in Bombay, a city they know intimately through the Hindi film industry based there. Another facet of the sex trade is trafficking in women and girls, a huge business in Nepal. Poor women from remote hill villages are lured by unscrupulous middlemen with promises of jobs and then sold to brothels in Calcutta or Mumbai. According to a recent estimate by the UNICEF, more than 300,000 Nepali women are reported to have been sold to Indian brothels. Police in Nepal, meanwhile, concede that the problem of organized prostitution rings is growing but lament the lack of adequate laws to fight them, as acknowledged by Additional Inspector General of Police Pradip Rana at a recent press conference in the wake of the Kathmandu arrests. Says lawyer Shangraula of ILRR: "The police are right. We don't have laws to prosecute anyone involved in illegal prostitution. Our laws can only prosecute those who have forced others into prostitution against their wishes." As for those who voluntarily opt for the profession, the law does not prescribe a remedy. "We feel that the concerned authorities are not seeing the problem as they should," she adds. "Unless laws are enacted, the problem will only keep growing."


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