Nepal’s growing pornography trade preys on women

June 16th, 2010 - 4:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 16 (IANS) Nepali women are increasingly being forced to work in the Himalayan republic’s growing domestic pornographic industry, a report has warned.
The US government’s 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons report, released in Washington by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday, said non-government organisations in Nepal continued to report an increase in both transnational and domestic trafficking, although a lack of reliable statistics made the problem difficult to quantify.

While Nepali women and girls continue to be subjected to forced prostitution in Nepal, India and the Middle East, as well as forced labour in Nepal and India in the form of domestic servants, beggars, factory workers, and circus workers, Nepali women are also forced to work in Nepal’s growing pornography industry, the report said.

They are subjected to forced prostitution and forced labour in other Asian destinations as well, including Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Korea, it added.

The report comes after Nepal’s police began a crackdown on hotels, guesthouses and massage parlours in the capital, netting nearly 100 women who said they were forced into prostitution by the owners.

One of the owners, Rose Rana, also arrested by police, is a prominent film producer whose films are currently running in theatres.

Besides being exploited as forced domestic servants, Nepali boys are also abused sexually.

“There is anecdotal evidence that Nepal’s role as a destination for foreign child sex tourists is growing, possibly as efforts to confront this problem in traditional Southeast Asian destinations have become more effective,” the report said.

Several NGOs have reported an increase in the number of teenage boys in Kathmandu engaged in prostitution; many of these boys are suspected to be trafficking victims.

What compounds the problem, already aggravated by lack of resources, is the involvement of government officials in trafficking.

Traffickers are using ties to politicians, businessmen, state officials, police, customs officials, and border police to facilitate trafficking.

“Many dance bars, ‘cabin restaurants’, and massage parlours in Kathmandu that facilitate sex trafficking are reportedly co-owned by senior police and army officials,” the report said.

The large number of Nepali passports containing false information which Indian officials have encountered in trafficking cases may be the result of Nepali officials working with traffickers to provide them with these documents, it said.

However, despite these serious concerns, there were no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking during the reporting period.

Nepal does not have a formal system of proactively identifying victims of trafficking among high-risk persons with whom they come in contact.

While police make arrests during indiscriminate raids on commercial sex establishments, there are no attempts to identify victims.

In late 2009, police conducted a series of “blind” raids on establishments suspected for being fronts for prostitution. Dozens of “employees” - including children - were arrested.

Despite indications that some of the women and most of the girls in those establishments were trafficking victims, the police made no effort to identify trafficking victims before releasing the women and girls.

All facilities that assist trafficking victims are run by NGOs. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) allocated approximately $110,000 in the 2009-2010 fiscal for eight NGO-run shelter homes.

It also allocated approximately $275,000 to open 15 emergency shelters across the country for victims of abuse (including trafficking).

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