This blog was written in February 2011, during my time in Nepal on the World Race…
On my race last year, God broke my heart for victims of sex trafficking and gave me a passion to reach out to these women. He brought me to them in Thailand, and yet again He has directed my path to them in India and Nepal.
Upon arriving in India, my heart instantly went out to the women. I had heard about the inequality, specifically that most parents do not want to have girls because they are costly. In this culture, men are honored and appreciated for being able to support their family financially. They are given priority for getting an education where as the girls do not always get the same opportunities. When a woman gets married, her family has to provide a dowry or if she does not wed than she becomes a burden for her family.
What comes from this negative view of women is that they are aborted as babies, abandoned in orphanages, and sold into sex slavery.
The vast majority of abortions are girls, even though sex determination is illegal families still find ways to figure out what gender the baby is before it is born.
The vast majority of children in orphanages are girls, given up by their parents because they were not boys.
Brothers, uncles, and fathers sell their daughters to brothel owners so they can get their money back for having a girl.
This is reality in India, but also here in Nepal. I had no idea until coming to Asha Nepal and hearing the stories of these women, how far this atrocity and distorted prejudice went. Women from both India and Nepal are often taken to Bombay, a hot bed of brothels and sex slavery, and sold unknowingly. Their families get the money and then are forgotten as these women are forced to live in a continual nightmare.
Yesterday, I sat down with the contact here as Asha Nepal and he told me a little about the brothels. He could not tell me much because it was too hard for him to share. I was in tears as I heard some of what happens to these women. Against their will, they are sold and forced to sleep with several men a day. If they do not they are beaten, tied up, stuck with hot irons, etc. For some of the new women who give up a fight, they are bound and gangraped until they are numb to what is happening. The younger women are usually locked in cages until they are sold to the highest bidder. Typically a wealthy business man who believes that sleeping with a virgin will cleanse him of sins, curses, and diseases will be the buyer. If a woman has children in the brothel, they are given drugs and shoved under the bed while their mothers work.
These women cannot escape, and if they try they are beaten or killed. They can try to pay their way to freedom, but this means they have to pay back whatever the brothel owner paid to buy them plus their living expenses at the brothel and an additional 30% on top of that. They are truly trapped.
After hearing all of this, I am amazed that so many are even at Asha Nepal. It is so difficult and very dangerous to escape the brothels, yet these women and children were lucky enough to make it. Just being around them I am filled with hope. They have chosen to overcome their circumstance and are living proof of the Lord’s unfailing love and redemption for us all. Even though my time here was short, I have been deeply effected.
I was born in Nepal, and at age 14 was married. My husband left me after a year and I was taken back to live with my family because I could not provide for myself. My older brother needed some money and so at age 15, I was trafficked across the border and sold to a brothel in Bombay, India. My own brother sold me so he could get a plane ticket to Qatar. I was taken from my parents and left in a foreign country to be beaten, abused, and forgotten.
I was in the brothels for about seven years when I came to know the Lord. He gave me the hope and the strength to continue to live. I wanted to escape, but was too afraid to try. In a miraculous move from God, my brothel owner became a chrstian and set all of the women in the brothel free. I came to Asha Nepal through their partner organization in Bombay, and have been here for nearly 12 years. My parents live close by and I see them often. I do not talk to my brother but I have forgiven him for what he did to me.
As I sat and listened to this woman’s story, my heart was wrecked. Here is a woman who against all odds, found hope and freedom. She is living with her head held high in a culture that wants nothing to do with her. She has traveled to a few different places with the director of Asha Nepal to share her story and the Gospel, and on more than one occasion was judged and shunned as a prostitute. She refuses to give up though. She knows that she is whole and made new in Christ. She has been freed from the guilt and shame of her past. She is a beautiful and pure woman of God, whose story is the perfect picture of redemption.