“…he said that he would help me get a better job… I didn’t believe him at first. But the situation got worst, I couldn’t take it no more… so one day I believed him…and I went with him”
After that, it is when it began… the chapters of Munas life that could be called the rape, 25-30 men a day and I couldn’t even stand up.
Muna, a women currently 22 years old, was rescued when she was about 13 years old by a NGO called Raksha. She had been working as an prostitute since early age, she can’t say exact time since nobody ever told here when she was born. Mona is not a fictive person, she is a real women that has experienced what will be shared in this post. She is a women that aren’t afraid to stand up for girls that is in the situation where she has been in. She gave full approve for me to use her story for this blog post, and she was the one to say that I should use her name. She expressed that before it was hard for her to tell the story, but now she feels that the story needs to be told otherwise people won’t know and can’t understand what truly is going on. Her story together with inspiration from conducted interviews from my studies has inspired me to write this blog post. It’s a long post but take the moment to read it. Please, take the moment to see another way of growing up… a way that should not exist.
When we talk about prostitution, and the victims of this industry, it’s often focus on the amplitude of the problem, we try to seek statistic (which is also so hard to estimate) because we live in a world that is measured by numbers, and at times we seem to forget about the souls that are being destroyed. Souls that slowly and painfully withered, until all we have left is a shell, a shell of something that one’s used to be a girl. A girl filled with hopes and dreams, just like any other of us. Prostitution is for me the surface of the problem, it’s just a part of trafficking and it is organized in ways I still found hard to believe. There are cases where these young girls, regardless the reason they have ended up in prostitution also are given hormones in order for them to develop faster. To get them bigger breast and asses so they will be more appealing for customers. And if you think that’s insane, then what about how they can take a 22-month-old baby and her steroids and then trafficking these babies to India. This, so they in the earliest age as possible can form this person, both physically and mentally, to become a good sex worker. I don’t know what to say about that, it just breaks my heart that a precious baby’s life isn’t grievable. Where are the human values and the human rights?
Muna was very small when she and her brother moved to Kathmandu, their parents had died when they where young, so it was only the two of them. They had an uncle that helped them to move into the city, where the brother got a dissent job and could take care of them both. But after he got married, everything changed. His wife started to treat Muna worse and worse. Muna got blamed by her sister in law for being a burden to her brother and the sister in law started beating her often, and then frequently, and her brother didn’t stood up for Muna. One day Muna didn’t see any other choice than to run away from “home”. She ended up living on the street and eating food from the garbage. She tried to find a job for herself, but whenever the people hiring asked from which cast she was from, they closed the door in her face. Muna was born in a cast where they are consider untouchable, which means that no-one want to touch them or be near them. One they though, Muna lied about which cast she belong to and she finally got a job. However, the job wasn’t good. By the end, Muna was sleeping 2-3 hours a night, she got to eat food that was 3 days old, she had to clean for 20 people living in that house and the son in the household started to touch Muna in a sexual way. Have in mind, that we are still talking about a child, that is around 9-10 years old.
Often, there was a man coming to this house. He used to say to Muna that she doesn’t have to have it like this, that he could help her get a better job. She didn’t believe him, she already have been so disappointed in her life and let down by people. But one day, when it a came to be too much, she decided to go with him. She hoped that it could become better. But sadly, she was wrong. After just a few days living with this man, owner of a massage parlor, the nightmare truly began. The man that promised Muna a better life, had her staying in one room all the time and one day he sent a man into her room. This man forced himself over her, and she tried to get free. He pushed her back in the bed and she hit her head on the edge of the bed, still she tried to get away and she screamed. She couldn’t understand what’s was going on. The owner came and she thought he would help her, but the opposite, he help the man. The man pushed her down again so she hit her head once again, and the owner hold her legs spread wide while the man hold down her arms… and slowly she started to lose conscious. When she woke up she was covered with bite marks and the white sheets were covered in blood. She managed to get herself out from the room and she asked the owner what happened but she didn’t got an answer. A woman working there helped her to get cleaned up, but neither would she give Muna answers of what has happened to her. Nobody told Muna, that she just got raped… and she, only being a child and also not educated about these matters, just couldn’t understand what has happened to her...
Some girls actually might get a job at a restaurant, but in many cases when it comes to girls from rural areas that are trying to find a life in the city, it escalate to working in the entertainment sector, like dance bars, massage parlors and dories. And in many cases, these places are just covers, they are a two-faced organization, that offers the normal services and then offers young girls for sex.
From the outside, it might be hard to understand how girls can end up in this situation, and at times it feels like they shouldn’t be naive and believe the promises of a better life. But understand, that so many girls are living in a home where there barely isn’t any money, or they are being abused and even raped by family members. So many girls are being neglected and no-one pays attention to them and they haven’t been given proper education, so they lack knowledge about trafficking and prostitution and how the path down this road can look like. So all together, they become an easy target for boys to lure them to the city with fake promises, like I’ll help you to get a job or even telling her that she is beautiful and he will provide a future for her and that he will marry her. In the end of the day, we all have hope and dreams, and we all want to be seen and appreciated. So imagine yourself being at the lowest point possible, having a life where you feel that you are not worth much more than the trash on the side of the road… and then someone comes and gives you hope, hope that it can become better. Wouldn’t you believe them…
It’s also easy to stand from the outside and blame it on the system, blaming government, blaming whomever is in charge and asking why they don’t do anything about the situation. Certainly, they should work harder and put more monitoring on this case. But what about the men who is buying sex and justifying their actions. They are all someone’s father, someone’s brother or someone’s son. That means that the responsibility lies with all of us, both men and women, if not by influencing the justice system we can influence each other by teaching and raising or sons, as well as our daughters, to respect women and not consider them as an object. We can all help out by creating awareness, to enhance moral and ethical values in our thinking about that this is wrong. It’s downgrading and inhuman behavior to think, to stand behind and to let it go on… let a 13-year-old being sold for sexual activity. “I had about 20-30 customers a day…. Sometimes the owner told me to go in to a room and that it would be one man in there waiting for me… but it wasn’t. There were several men. And they tossed me around like a doll… you know how kids play with a doll and they toss the doll around each other and they drag in the doll. That’s how they did with me. Afterwards… I couldn’t stand up…”
The work to help these girls is difficult in so many ways, since there is so many factors that has to come together in order to change the situation for the girls. It’s not just about reaching out a hand to help them, you also need to be able to help them empower themselves, rebuild their confident, help them find another way of earning. Because in then end if the day, we need money to feed ourselves and put a roof over our heads. And also, so many of these girls have become addicted to drugs. “He used to give me drugs, so I would be more relaxed for….” This way, the girls would become more relaxed for the customers and it would be easier to have them sexual exploited. <so when trying to help them, we also need to help them with their addiction. Then we also have the stigma of the society, and there are people here that looks down on these girls and think they don’t deserve a second chance and won’t acknowledge their existence. However they have no trouble to pay them in order to have sex with them, beat them in the process and even f’’k them so hard that these girls and women, some of them not even old enough to even be having sex, can’t stand afterwards. But this isn’t sex though, sex should be something beautiful between two human beings in order to express their feelings and their passion towards each other. This is torture, there is no other way to express it. It’s an shameful act, however the shame should not, and never, be put on the girl. The shame is you who buys, you who sells and you who think that a human being can be sold.
And then it comes down to the factor of trust, to get the girls to trust that we will help them get a better life. Have in mind that it’s not a choice to end up in prostitution, even if someone says that they’ve chosen this. Ask yourself why and how they needed to end up in a situation where they were forced to make this choice. Yes, they been forced, sometimes by threat, sometimes by lies that they would be offered a better future, but often by the social, economic and/or by family situations. When a girl have been given many promises about a better life but ended up in an even worse situation it becomes hard for her to trust anyone…. even the good guys. So when professional from NGOs comes and try to offer help, they have a hard time believing them. And sometimes they respond with that it’s waste of time trying to help them, and instead they wishes for easy solution on how to kill them self because the pain they are carrying is just too painful.
After a while the owner started to trust Muna, and he could leave the house without having her supervised. He knew that she didn’t had anyone or nowhere to go. During the time Muna had lived in the house she had observed the owner using the landline and a women doing the economics, so Muna had learned numbers and how to use the phone. So one day, after hearing a radio broadcast… she took the step that changed her life. “I like to listen to music on the radio, and then I heard this broadcast.. from Raksha. About that they could help girls like me, help them get an education and help them from their situation. I made the call to them, and this women said that she would help me. But you know, I didn’t believe her…. But somehow she found me. I don’t know how she found me, but she did”.
These words, this material and these thoughts are written from the experiences and collected data from Nepal mostly Kathmandu and surrounding area. But it applies in another context of the world as well. No matter if the situations has reasons in economic instability, dysfunctional families or drug related factors, the fact remains: How did we end up in a world where it exist people that think that the human being can be sold and used, over and over and over again, for sexual pleasure for the buyer. Where the life of someone’s doesn’t have human value, where they can be sold for an amount such as little as 50 dollars. These children are being taken from their villages in the believe that they will do household work in the city but then ending up being sold to restaurants and other places that offers sex for money. And to be honest, I didn’t even want to share the price tag of some of the girls. Yes, it’s shameful that for 50 bucks you can buy a girl and then use her for profits, use her as a product that can be sold over and over again. But you know what, I wouldn’t think it would feel any better if she was sold for 50,000 dollars! Because the fact remains, she shouldn’t be sold in the first place!
This is the reality, this isn’t fiction or a story plot for a movie. Stories, similar to Munas is taking place while I write this post and as you are reading this while sitting comfortable in your sofa or on the subway on your way to work. To a work with regulations and to a work where you might get a customer that screams to you out frustration. But he most likely won’t bite you, he won’t beat you unconscious and you will be able to leave your work place to maybe go and have dinner with friends, while these girls might not even be able to stand up to go to the toilet…
The children in the picture has no direct connection to the story in this blog post. However, they are children that I’ve seen walking around by themselves in Thamel and could just as well be like Muna and her brother...