Saturday, November 2, 2013

Malai Kosto Nessro Aiyo

I just got back from a reception for this amazing charitable organization: Maiti Nepal.  I met the founder and some of the people who have organized the "Friends of..." website which enables you to donate effciently to what is really a very small, local, organization in Nepal itself.  I didn't stay long because I only wanted to talk in my now very broken Nepali with the wait staff and I couldn't take up too much of the time of the founder who was there to talk to some potentially big donors.  But I am overwhelmed with sentimental feelings about Nepal and Nepali.  The problem of the trafficking of girls from their homes into brothels in India and China is immense.  When I was living in Nepal 25 years ago the little girl who lived in my Didi's house as a servant (a fairly well structured feudal relationship) was lured away by some guy working for the Indian brothels.  We caught her before she got all the way to the bus station with him but she was really unaware of the danger she was in.  It wasn't a problem in my actual village, which was too far off the beaten path for a stranger to come and take a girl away but its a huge problem anywhere that families are weak or broken, jobs are scarce, and exit routes well marked out.  Maiti Nepal seems to train the girls that they rescue to point out and even board the minibuses that the pimps load up and persuade the girls to get off. They have little work groups in the Terai and on the Chinese border.  I'm interested in finding out more about this group and maybe working with them in the future.


  1. It should go without saying that if the police and local authorities were not involved this traffic could simply not exist.

  2. This is very interesting Aimai, and horrifiying.One thing Im surprised at is the idea (sorry if I'm misreading) that village communities could at as a protection (for want of a better word) against exploitation, that they could prevent young women and girls from being taken into brothels. My instinctive assumption would have been that these villages would have been quite patriarchial, and poor, and possibly run on a set of assumptions that would have seen the exploitation of women as something routine and uncontroversial (if you see what im trying to say?)
    Am I completely off base on that?

  3. hi Ronan. Its complicated. Even in a patriarchal society the lives and fortunes of the girls in a family are (usually) quite highly valued and especially in a Hindu society the sexual purity of young girls and nubile girls is (generally speaking) tied to the overall status of the family (the fathers, mothers, and brothers) and their social prospects. I worked with both Brahmins (high caste) and Limbus (middling to low caste/martial caste). A normal father and mother would never countenance the sale or trade of their daughter into prostitution and would be very concerned to get her safely married off to a respectable family with their own land which would support her and her children.

    But where there is no land (for a landless family) or there is no strong family network (for orphans, fatherless, or otherwise anomalous persons) there's a fine line between sending a young girl out to work and prostituting her. My village was too far off the road for a stranger to come and simply take a girl--in three days of walking out with her he'd be nabbed by someone--but there was always a lot of talk about the kind of brother/cousin who might come back from the city or even from as far away as Hong Kong, where the Limbu were serving in the Gurkhas, promising to arrange a marriage for a girl or a job for a girl and then walking off with her.

    Sexual exploitation of young girls outside of marriage is absolutely not considered routine or socially normative. What is lacking in Nepal 's border towns or Kathmandu are the strong patriarchal, familial, and economic bonds that prevented girls from being sucked out into what is essentially a capitalist system of exploitation of their labor (both sexual and non sexual). Within a village context your labor got exploited, along with your sexuality, through marriage (primarily). Widowed women, low caste women, outcaste women might also make a little money through prostitution or be forced into prostitution when the economic base of the family (farming) was no longer enough to support the family.

  4. Thanks for the clarification aimai, it's very helpful