Sorrows of Nepali Women
In NCS's Second General convention brother Salon Karthak informed how some Nepali girls are forced into prostitution in the brothels. He also informed that around forty girls want to be free from this "occupation" but who will initiate to go and serve them in this pitiful situation? When I heard this for the first time from his deep and challenging voice, I felt that "I would go if I get an opportunity" On 8th March, International Women's day, Christian Women Society organized a spiritual meeting in Putali Sadak Church. That day we invited many Christian women leader to share something about their responsibilities (present works). Mrs. Bimala Thapa shared about her visit to Red Light Areas in Mumbai and she told that once again she is going but she is need of two more ladies to accompany with her. Hearing this I realized that God has opened a door for me to serve among those sisters who are sold in brothels. After that she got down from the pulpit and came to sit beside me. I told my desire to accompany her to Mombai and on hearing this she was very happy and welcomed me.
The date of departure was fixed for on 29th March, and yes we departed on the scheduled date. Many questions were inside my mind and I was making different picture of Red Light Area. As a gentleman was with us on our side we could not talk much about our mission during our flying time. At the Airport two sisters (Yanki and Thulididi) from AG Church Boudha, have came to welcome us. We introduced each other and we made our way towards the destination. On our way Yanki told that five sisters are staying with her and she told us that they are feeling nervous by our arrival. These sisters are thinking that we may feel with them and hate them because of their occupation, She requested us not to ask them any personnel question. Gradually they will tell their stories themselves when they start trusting you. When we reached the apartment the door was opened for us. All the girls were watching T.V., and all of them ran away into their rooms. Miss Yanki introduced us to a beautiful girl named Ruth. I was very much surprised by her name. I thought that girls living in that apartment are all same and I questioned myself a Christian sister was brought to the brothel or she just changed her name? I was anxious. After sometime Yanki called all the girls and introduced to all. Some time later I came to know that Ruth was a volunteer lady from Boudha Church. I was shocked with myself for my foolishness. I was not able to say "Sorry" to Ruth at that time but I want to ask for an apology today.
Next day we three (Yanki, Bimala and me) headed towards Kamadipur Red Light area. I was very much hesitant either we will be allowed to enter the gate or not. What if somebody catches us or if they do not allow us to come back, these fear were catching my mind and heart as well as I was anxious too. After about one and half hour train ride we got off in the area called Church gate and took taxi towards our destination. This area was bounded by metal wire and tins that reminded me of a Vietnamese refugee camp in Hong Kong. Yanki informed that it is the biggest Red Light area. I was very much surprised because this place was just like a simple residential area. In this area I saw long and three/ four storied buildings. We were not allowed to enter the top floor (4th floor) of this house. According to the Madams the top floor has beautiful, new, teenagers, educated and rich girls who has been brought here direct from school and colleges by kidnapping. The price for them is more than Rs. 1000 for once i.e. for 15/20 minutes. They were also taken to standard hotels by cars according to the demand of customer. Even though this top floor is very clean but the girls and customers are under a security of Mafia and gay people, so it is very difficult to get through. It is very frightful to learn that even female policewomen were captured and kept inside when she went to raid this area.
Three class of brothels:
- Rooms Cages:
Cages: The top floor where young and beautiful girls from standard family were kept and only rich and regular customer are only allowed to enter. The girls in this floor are from 12/ 13 years to 16/ 17 years of age.
Bungalows: Clean and big room with one T.V. set. Other rooms are found around it each with one bed and fan and wooden door. Separate toilet facilities was there and for once they used to charge Rs. 300 to RS 500. These sisters were beautiful and also well behaved. Initially, there were 50/60 girls in this bungalow (20-24 yr. old) but some ran away, some died due to different STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), and some were transferred to other red light area named Bhibandi and only 25 were left. Out of these remaining, six girls are new believers and they go to church in Nagpada every Saturday for fellowship.
The girls in these two categories have a very better life than the third category. The only work they do is to sleep with customers but the other works (such as cooking food and washing clothes etc.) were done for them by others who previously worked there as a prostitute (who have become old and ugly now). These women were not allowed to go anywhere else.
Rooms (kothi) Cages: Usually this is an area on the passageway of bungalows. Women who have already spent 5/6 years in brothels and are not willing to go back to their home are found standing on the door with cheap make-ups and bright clothes and also wearing fake gold ornaments. They are seen with very appealing clothes. These women are found either in a group or single giving some kind of signals to a customer. They are also seen around taxi stand, pan shop, medical shops, tea house and telephone booths waiting for a customer in a hot day. Precisely I can say that they are found in all kind of shops.
The price for them ranges between RS 50 to Rs.120. If any Arabs or Punjabis come and take them out to hotel or other places like Banglore and Goa for whole night they have to RS 500 as an advance to Madam for a night. If the customer is happy with them, they may also be rewarded with tips (extra money) with which girls make gold ornaments. These girls have to cook for themselves in turns but for dinner they usually bring from outside. They sleep up to 11-12 o'clock in the morning because the business start from 2/3PM to 2 AM next day so they sleep a long hours in the morning.
This is a scene described from Kamadipur Red Light Area but there are other areas that are: Pilhouse - New Mumbai Soorat - Fork Line Bhiyandi etc.
In my 41 days stay in Mumbai I was able to visit Kamadipur 5/6 times, Fork line and Pilhouse 3/ 4 times and Bhiyandi once.
Fork line and Pilhouse: This is an old street, which is dirty. There are 7/8 rooms in one flat and 50/60 women were accommodated. They are dark and fat women. They are found to be staying in verandas and stairs speaking dirty languages. They were from Karnataka in South India. They worship and pray Goddess Kali and knew how to play magic. They are very frightful to see and when we reached near them they spoke the languages which could not be understood. It was good that I didn't understood. This area is seen to be dominated by old women. 2/4 Tamang sisters were there but most of all were Kannadese but all are old aged women. "Its been two years there is no any new girls and it is difficult to sustain life" says Nepalese sisters, there is no business for them because of their old age. From here also few (9/10) ladies goes to Nagpada Church for fellowship.
Bhiyandi is a place where I even felt uneasy to drink water due to its dirtiness. This area is away from east of Santacruz, which takes 2 hours drive in a private vehicle and about 4/5 hours by train or bus. As few sisters from here also goes to church so pastor Debraj and we three went to visit them. This place is a piece of hell itself. Old houses with 4-5 thousands prostitutes among them 1000-1200 are said to be Nepali girls. Every passageways are surrounded by dust, drainage carrying dirty water and was as dirty as dumping site. Thousands of flies were seen swarming and with every step they would come dashingly towards the faces. Every where dirt and drainage carrying dirty water and are blocked with dirt in some parts, above that pink condoms were thrown over these dirty water and were scattered everywhere on the roads too. Except one Sunar girl, all girls are Tamang. So most of them speak Tamang language.
Beside them there were other dark Kannadies ladies which dominated this place. It was really frightening to see those Kannadies doing their spiritual rituals. They are dressed up as others with cheap make-ups, flowers on their heads, which are made up of plastics and clothes. This is one different character than other that is found in this place. It is very ridiculous to see the Kannadese doing their worship by hitting a kind of small drum, taking out their tongs very long and jumping around. In one corner, two Nepali Tamangs were quarreling for an Indian customer. He nearly threw a big stone at one Tamang girl. They were spitting vulgar and obscene words in Hindi and Tamang.
As Pastor Debraj was with us, this situation was very embarrassing one but I remembered a verse of the bible that said "to work with such people means to hang oneself many times on cross and taking up a cross and move" Here 12/13 sisters are believers. After a two-hours-long fellowship and a prayer was made. During prayer time, I found that 2-3 sisters were crying and some even fell down. Seeing these events, I began to think does Holy Spirit, who is very holy and clean, really presented in such a dirty place as brothels? I was thinking about them who pray, cry, fell down in front of God and again does the same work (prostitution) but that is the way life goes there. I was unable to understand this mysterious work of God with this my limited knowledge. After the fellowship, these sisters asked to pray for them in their rooms too. We went to three more other places and prayed. Next place was a small one. As believer-sisters were there we moved around every streets. We saw many people here who were openly indulging with women without any shame and we met a Nepali man too. After we told him that we too are Nepali, came here for social work, he was afraid and immediately got off a bed.
There is a place, where we were called for worship, and was very hot and without any windows, two small fans were there. We were altogether 19 women with three small children adjusted in three small single beds and on floor. The place was smelly, drainage was full of dirty water, and flies were flying everywhere. In front of the house was a small pan shop from where a loud Hindi music was playing. Nepalese and Kanndese women were roaming around the place not caring for the bright and hot sun. In one corner was a small outlet which we thought was a place for washing dishes but later on we understood that is a place for passing out urine (toilet / water closet). We were offered coke to drink that was swallowing with great difficulties. Later on, the house owner, who is a believer, took out a set of plates and began to wash them in that same toilet. I immediately understood that they are offering us something to eat. I was already sick by thinking of eating something here. All those filth around "oh! my gosh!! to eat at the same place, same time!! it was difficult for me, I was about to vomit when I was just thinking of a food. And I pass a comment about food to Ps. Debraj. That sister took out rice and meat from under the bed and began to distribute it to us. I prayed that "God please save me from vomiting and diarrhea." No staff had the desire to eat food. One staff spoke out that "Christ had sacrificed once but we have to sacrifice many times."
G.T. Hospital: This hospital is situated at 15 minutes taxi ride from center Mumbai or Church gate. Among many hospitals of Mumbai we visited only this hospital during my 41 days stay with the staff at Bombay Teen Challenge. During our visit, Nepalese girls were found to be infected seriously with HIV/AIDS and among them 5 died immediately. Annie from Darjeeling was struggling heavily between life and death. Nancy Gurung, Cherry Gurung, Sandy Tamang and other two who did not wanted to disclose their names died there. During my stay in Mumbai me and other sister got chance to roam around many places turn wise.
I was able to visit Badalapur area also: Where fatherless children were born from brothels; street children and girls were kept along with drug addicts. This house was named "Asha Home"(house of hope) where 25 boys and 42 girls were kept. But most pitiful conditions were found in G.T. hospital. I even asked God why such suffering is taking place? When I saw those very young people of aged between 18-26 struggling like street dogs, I was greatly disappointed. I asked God for a justice of those people who brought these innocent young girls who knew nothing about a brothel. They should be punished for their evil deeds. I prayed to God to show miracles seeing these girls struggling. I hope God will come soon!
In the beginning of my visit to the hospital, I went near Cherry, Yanki near Sandy and Bimala near Annie to take care of them. After sometime I asked Cherry: "Sister, what's happened? What is happening to you?" She said that she had a very bad cough and headache. Again I asked her about how long have she been here. She said she has been here for five years. I wanted to know more about her and asked her how did she came here? But she turned other side and remained silent. After sometime I told her that no matter what we are good or bad but God is there who always loves us. As I said God, Cherry immediately responded quickly "Don't talk about God here! God is a big cheater! As he is a cheater, all men are cheaters! What have I done to God or His fellow people, so I am punished this way in a strange land? Have I done something bad to God that I am here? She was very angry with me and again said "Don't tell me about your God, now you go! Go! Then she coughed very heavily again, pressing her chest - a bowl was under her bed for which I helped her, as she was helpless, she accepted my help.
After one week, we visited the hospital again. Cherry was dying - very thin. We gave fruits to Annie. Nancy was able to eat nothing and Sandy was asleep. One sister was already dead. We gave oranges to Cherry. She was facing towards the wall and was unable to speak. I placed hand on her head. Her head had a burning fever and I gave her the cold bandage. But cold hanky soon became hot again. I never came across such headache in my life. I moved her towards me. Her lips were dry and full of wounds. She was so sick that she was unable to close her mouth. I peeled off an orange and forcefully let her eat. I washed her face and rubbed it. I asked her whether somebody comes to see or not. "Sometimes my house owner comes," she said. Then I slowly told her about the love of God, sin and salvation in Christ and finally I wanted to pray for her. She accepted my proposal, I placed my hands over her head and prayed. We returned from there after some times.
After two days, Yanki, Bimala and myself revisited that place. As Sandy became very sick she was given leave by the hospital. As her house owner did not wanted to keep her, she was given a train ticket and was sent back to Nepal. It was a very bitter news for us. Maybe she died on the train on the way home. Nancy was also sent home as she too was miserably sick and was in final stage. Annie asked for biscuits, so we gave her some. Cherry was unable to eat biscuits. Fever was on the same height; continuous vomiting was there. On hearing our voice, she opened her eyes and requested us to take her to our country if she would be all right. I again witnessed to her about the gospel. I told her that this body would one day surely die, but for the sake of spirit, she should believe in God (Christ). Then, she accepted God. We told her that we were taking Annie with us.
Hearing this, Cherry cried, "Annie came here much later than me, but she's cured. Will I be cured too? She is crying. She was so much grieved that I wanted to cry too. She requested us to come back and visited her in future too. I came back to Nepal bringing four sisters with me, I told Cherry that I would be back and visited her after two months. Later, Bimala phoned her house and I got the news that Cherry and Nancy had died.
This is a sad story of those who are sold in the brothels. It is very difficult and sad to write about them.
There are around 72,000 Nepalese women / girls living (hell-like) in Mumbai brothels
and among them 25% are the Tamangs.
In Kamadipur even those Kannadese were seen speaking Tamang language.
Interviews with some sister: (life story) (The webmaster has intentionally changed their name to English names to protect their privacy; but the first letter or second letter of their name is preserved.)
Rebbecca who hails from Narayanghat told that she was sold by her made brother who placed "Bhai Tika" (in Hindu tradition girls put "tika" to their brothers, this is a sign of close relationship of brother and sister) from her for three years. He was a college student and she was studying in 9th grade. He requested her to come to campus to watch a program and she accepted the invitation happily. When returning back, in Hetauda she was offered a juice to drink. After drinking a juice, she became unconscious. After 2/3 days she knew that she was sold in a brothel. At that time she was just 15 years and now she is twenty.
One Tamang girl told that her mother sent her when she was just 10 years old. Mary from Bhairahwa has been sold for 40 thousand Rupees by a person who told her that he would marry her when she will be 14 years of age.
Regina came from Solukhumbu to Katmandu to learn garment. Her teachers' boy friend told them to go to Hetuda to travel and both were sold.
Astrid told that she was forcefully taken by two Muslims from a film hall.
Polly who used to quarrel with her elder sister (by 2 years) was sold in 25,000 by her own sister.
Sharon told that a friend of her mother-in-law told her to go to Katmandu to work. Her own son took her to Gorakpur from where she was taken by another unknown person.
Sherry became very much sick. Her sister came from Arab and took her to Mumbai for treatment but later she knew that her sister was also into it and so she put her also.
Kirsten who told she was from Sikking says "in my opinion all men are dogs, who needs women and wine" Men even bring their wives' gold and clothes to girls who have become their puppet. All sisters think that policemen, house owners, officers working in boarders and those who bring them there are nothing more than an astray dogs who needs nothing more than money. They are not human but wild animals.
Three years ago police raided a brothel and 127 sisters were taken. They were kept in jail for 6/7 months and they were handed over to shelter and from there they were again given to Nepalese organization. But some are seen back in Mumbai. One sister who has 5-year old daughter is seen in Bombay Teen Challenge. She told "why to go Nepal? What is left there for us? When we go there, every body would look at us with negative eyes. All would only talk about Mumbai brothels. So, instead of staying in such a society, I came back here where no one would care about others."
Police people of Hamuman Dhoka also misbehaved them. They used to tell them that "were we not here for you and that you have to go to Bombay"? We didn't came here with our interest but we have been cheated, given medicine, made us senseless but they always think of us as if we came here from our own wish. The women explained a painful event that used to occur in the beginning. The owner (madam) used to bit with big flat sticks if they refused to do what she orders but finally we have to obey her for sake of living.
"I got a chance to go to Nepal once but all look upon us negatively" said one sister. They would understand this only if their daughters and sister would be sold. She told about the NGOs of Nepal. In those brothel strange things that are very fright full happens everyday. One day four sisters told us a terrifying story.
They told us: one-day police raided one of the houses of Kannadi madam, they stripped off her clothes and demonstrated her throughout the red light area. Later on they came to know that the Kannadi owner (madam) used to worship Kali and pray her. She had 20/21 Nepalese and 5/6 Indian girls in her brothel. While in the process of Puja, she used to get into complete ecstasy and completely drunk with alcohol, then she used to kill one of a woman and drink her blood. Not only that she used to cook the meat and distribute it to others. She used to wrap legs and other parts in a sack and used to tell a boy to throw it somewhere. That boy was paid for these deeds. But most of the times, when he asked for money she didn't give him. So, once when he was ordered to throw away the body parts, he hid these parts under a bridge and went back to ask for money. This time too he was not given money; instead he was also attempted to be killed, so he fled and told everything to police. So the incident took place.
In this way different kinds of dangers always roam around here for all. In this place if a sister is sold and she has to work as long as her money is not fully repaid. If one is sold for RS 50,000 she has to work there till she would be able to gain RS 50,000 for the owner. If she is able to pay it back within 2 years then she is free. She can stay there and work but she should do that for 50% basis. Beside she herself had to pay for food, electricity, water, and room rent etc. Within this period of time, before she is able to pay back the money, she is most probably infected by HIV/AIDS. If house owner is not happy with her, then she can be sold to other brothel and same cycle would be continued. If she get some RS. from customers, then these also would be snatched by the owner and manger. Some customers give them money if they feel pity on them.
House owner Madame, owner of a brothel Manager Women who initially worked as a prostitute and later works to mange everything between customer and the girls. Work to sleep with customer Wash stomach Abortion There is one 17-year old girl from Butwal who has already aborted child for 3 times at this tender age. To abort a child is very minor thing there in Mumbai. But one sad fact is that they have to start their work from very next day. They have complaint that they have heavy uterus pain. One thing that they have to sleep in the position in which the customer likes, if they do not obey that they would beat them up and heavy wounds be there on their faces. To invite the customer they have to stay outside and swing their hands. If that is not done then they would have to get big thrashing from the manager. If they would not obey may have to die by the beating of boyfriend of Madam. They have a scar in which the boyfriend of madam have pierced knife inside the woman organ and killed them. So they were very afraid and obey what they tell. If they obey their elders they would get love and care too.
In Kamadipur I saw Tamang boys in tight Jeans, leather jackets and half gloves in this hot temperature of 38 to 40 C. I wished that they had died inside the body of their mothers and wished to spit on their faces. These boys make the house owner their wivies work and live on their wivies' income. Beer are cigarettes are their favorite; kill time with bundles of cards. They should be cursed for their deeds. They spend the money, which they have earned by selling their own sisters. Seeing this, nothing comes to the mind and heart of women except the hatred for them. Now its over 10 years that democracy has come to our country and in the course of time, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai is about to be a Prime Minister of the country under Nepali Congress government. Mr. Bhattarai has promised many nice things for Nepal. He has promised to make Katmandu Singapore and would bring Melamchi water within 3 years but I request him to control the Mafia, brokers and boarder police from the flesh trade of our sisters.
In Mumbai any Nepali girls with small eyes, long hairs and with sari and kurta suruwal are considered to be a whore. Here MaNancy and Anuradha cannot alone protect those 72 thousand Nepali girls who are sold in Mumbai and around 2 lakh in Calcutta, Delhi, Pune and Goha. Whoever girls/sisters met in Mumbai, they say that there is a good relationship between Police, Madam, Brokers and Mafia. Nepal and India police could do nothing as Madam pays them heavy amount instead they ask some more with us. So, the authorities (home ministry) should take immediate action and expose those criminals of society and should be jailed for lifetime. Not only that, they should restrict those areas such as Airport, Kakarvitta, Gorakpur etc. so that it would control the flesh trade of our country. Lots of information should be given to a villager and should be made aware through providing documentaries and television.
Especially Danwar, Kami, Damai and Tamangs should be supervised throughout or again they could be seen in Mumbai brothels and Nepal would soon be a pit of HIV/AIDS then who would be responsible?
- Innocent sisters?
- Culture & tradition?
- Poverty & illiterate?
WHO? WHO SHOULD TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY?
Mrs. Esther (Laxmi) Thapa