photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal glossary


(NEPAL 30)










originally Gorkha district, now Kathmandu





Section 1
Where is home?
Our home in the hills is Gorkha. But here in Kathmandu: Kalimati.

Who is there at home?
Uncle, mother and father are there. Just my mother, father and myself, there is no one else, I am the only daughter. We have been living in Kathmandu from the beginning. My home in the hills is in Gorkha [district]. It’s been a long time since my mother and father came here.

How far have you studied?
I studied till class eight. My father died when I was two years old. After that my mum kept me at my aunt’s place. She got married again. I stayed at the aunt’s place from when I was two years old to 18, 19 years. I was fine at my aunt’s place. A foreigner sent money for my education. I was studying in a government school from the beginning. Later I was admitted into an English school in class eight. I had difficulty adjusting, and failed. My sponsor stopped sending money. I discontinued my studies because of financial hardship.
After that I was staying at my aunt’s place. A few months later my uncle remarried. I went back to my mother because it was very difficult staying there. I did not even study. I could not study because of the financial situation. Then I thought of looking for a job. I told the neighbourhood dais (older males) that I was interested in working if I could get a job. Then one dai arranged a job for me in a hotel. There in the hotel I got acquainted with a friend. We came to know each other because she was a dancer and I a waitress. My mother lived in Kalimati and I had work at Lagankhel. I was not able to go home because of the distance and I had to work from 10 in the morning till 10 at night. So I got permission from my mother and started staying with the friend in Lagankhel.
Some months later my friend said, “Look, how long am I going to be dancer in this dance restaurant and how long are you going to be a waitress here? Let us look for some other work or business,” she said. I was attracted by the idea because of the greed to earn more and because of poverty. Then I asked my friend what kind of business she was talking about. She said she knew some brothers (young men). My friend said that these brothers were really good people and that they dealt in diamonds. I didn’t even know those men. She said that she would introduce me to them. Two days later two men came and my friend introduced me to them, saying these were the brothers. The friend said that these brothers would give us diamonds and we had to carry the diamonds to India. I asked the brothers then why they needed to take us girls. Because men wouldn’t go, they said. They said they had to take girls because girls were not checked as thoroughly as men. Mainly because I trusted my friend and because she said the men were really good and she knew them well, I agreed. So I said “Fine!” and went.
After that we first went to Manakamana (a temple 40 km from Kathmandu) from here before going to India. After performing puja (prayers) we came and sat down to have tea. While waiting for something to eat they gave us Fanta (a soft drink). We never thought about what might happen to us, whether those men could be trusted, giving us Fanta to drink. After drinking it, we felt very sleepy and sick. It felt like that. And after drinking that, we never missed home. We were only thinking of going to India and bringing back money. So we went with them. We crossed over to India.
After crossing into India that man kept us in a hotel. All together five of us, three boys and two girls went from Kathmandu. After reaching there we were kept in a hotel. The main man (the boss, leader) said he had to go out to call the sahuji (owner/proprietor) since we had come to do diamond business and that he would return soon. Whether he went to call, we had no idea. Whether he went to telephone or went somewhere else we had no idea. We, the four of us, stayed inside the hotel. He came back and said the sahuji had no time to come so we would have to go to his house. We asked where his house was. We had to go to his house, said the man. And he didn’t tell us the name of the place.
He took us to a big house. We hadn’t even climbed the stairs and there was a fat woman sitting there. Then those boys said she is the sahuji, do namaste (greeting). Since we didn’t know [who she really was] we greeted her. Then they took us into a room and kept us there. Then what the main boy said was that they were going to get the money and come and we were to stay there. Then that boy called Rudra and one other boy, the two boys left. I was a bit frightened and uneasy and held on to the hand of one of the boys. And I asked him why we were being kept in the room like this and what was really happening. “It’s nothing,” he said, “you two shouldn’t panic.” “Stay calm here, the brothers will come back with the money and then we can all return to Kathmandu,” he said. And so we were staying inside.
In the adjoining room we heard a boy and a girl talking. There was a place from where one could peek in and so I looked and [then] said to that boy, “There is a boy and a girl in there. What’s going on in this hotel?” “It’s nothing, this is a hotel and these things happen, after all this is a hotel,” the boy said. And I was still holding on to that boy’s hand. And after that, all of a sudden I suspected that we are being sold and I asked the boy. “No, no,” he said. It wasn’t like that and I shouldn’t worry, he said. Shortly after that, the fat woman came, after 5, 10 minutes. She pulled away the boy I was holding and asked him to go with her since his brother was calling him. She told the two of us to wait in the room and left with the boy. “Your brothers are going to come back with money,” she said, and locked us from the outside. And we kept on sitting there. We felt like crying for this had never happened to us before. And so we sat there. We felt like crying. Nothing like this had ever happened before. And so we were there in the room, crying. Then around evening, they sent us off to freshen up and have a bath saying, “You must be tired.” So we went to bathe and came back after a bath. Then they took us to another room and said “Wait here, your brothers will come.” So as the two of us talked [until] 1 am, exactly one o’clock in the morning.
Section 3
Then what happened?
And we were in the room on the other side. A woman entered at one o’clock in the morning. “Your brothers have come, let’s go,” she said. We were so happy then. But the woman said, “The two of you shouldn’t go together, you must go one at a time else the police will suspect.” Saying that, she left my friend there and took me alone. And so I was taken to another house. I asked that didi (elder sister) where the brothers were. Then that girl said “Your brothers will never come back again.” “They have sold you and left,” that’s what she said. And I felt as if I had fallen off a cliff.

Is that woman a Nepali?
She is a Nepali. She is a Tamangni (femimine form of Tamang), there are many Tamangnis there.

Where are they from?
She is a Tamangni from Kathmandu. I still find it difficult to talk about this matter. And I found it extremely difficult at that time. All I could think of was: what am I to do and how do I escape? I kept thinking of that in my mind. I had no interest in the food they served. There were many Nepali girls, sisters, in another big room. On the other side, some were watching a movie, some were sleeping and some were doing something else. I was kept in a separate room.

What was the house like?
It was an old house. Old, big, with many rooms.

Which place was that?
It was a place called Poona. I knew later it was Poona. And so I was taken to that room and that woman told me they had left after selling me. “Your brothers will never return.” She said that. Then they snatched my citizenship papers which I had with me. I had gone wearing a T-shirt and trousers. I was asked to remove them. They made me wear a maxi [long skirt] and I wore a maxi. I was trying to run away. So I wore that and entered a room. There was only netting on the window, no windowpanes. At times like that one seems to gain strength. I had managed to take out half the netting after locking the room from inside. Somebody knocked and asked who was inside. “I am here, didi, I am here didi, I am going to sleep here. I don’t like sleeping outside, I will sleep here,” I said. I was frightened. “Come outside fast, my customer has come,” she said. After that I had to open the door. They realised I was trying to run away. Two, three of them beat me very badly, all were women. So the Madam to whom the boys had sold me first, sold me to the second Madam the next day. The second Madam called up the previous Madam and she also came and beat me badly. She beat me with this big stick. I was beaten until that stick broke. My condition was really bad. They banged my head on the wall. I can’t tell you now how I felt, how I felt then.

How much had they sold you for, do you know?
Eighty thousand. I asked, “How much was I sold for?” “80,000 IC (Indian currency),” they said. After they beat me up like that, “This girl is going to run away, we’ve got to take her to another house,” they said. So they sold me to another house. I told the didis, “I won’t do such work. Please, let me go from here.” And I pleaded with them. They told me people who come here can never return. They said you work hard, and if you work well we will send you back in two years, they said. I didn’t even eat for two-three days. What can one do in a place like that when you are compelled by circumstances...? I suffered a lot, and was forced by circumstances to do that work. Three months after that one Indian man came. I had requested many men who came there to help me get out. “I want to get away from here,” I had said. Most of the men were too frightened to help me get out of there. It was a very dangerous place. There would be rowdies (thugs) there. If anybody came to help girls escape, they would kill the helpers. That’s the kind of place it was. So after three months one Indian man came. No Nepali customers are allowed to come in there. They are afraid that if Nepalis come they will tell [other] Nepalis [about the girls who have been sold], so that is why they don’t let Nepalis in.
Section 4
Were there only Indian customers?
Yes, Indians. Those studying in campuses, school students, businessmen, only these kinds would come. Some involved in illegal trade, some good people, too, would come. And so, after three months an Indian brother came. So I told him everything. And he asked me where I had come from. And I told him everything. And he said he would help me and asked me for my home address. I gave him my home address. After that he went to Maiti Nepal (Nepali NGO working with trafficked women) here. He went to Maiti Nepal, and Maiti Nepal also has an office in Bombay. And so Bombay’s Bal Krishna sir (an Indian social worker working with Maiti Nepal) came to get us out. There are so many other sisters in the place where I was sold. I told them we shouldn’t stay there. “Let’s go! We will go to Nepal instead and do some kind of work [there]. We shouldn’t do this kind of work, let’s go,” I begged. The newcomers agreed to come, but the girls who had stayed there for 15-16 years didn’t want to come.

How many agreed to come?
Twenty-one of us.

There was a raid?
Yes. After that 21 of us agreed to come. And the friend who had gone with me from Kathmandu, Vidhya, was in another house. I told Bal Krishna sir that my friend was in that house and to go get my friend too. But they couldn’t find my friend. The Madam found out the police was coming and hid her elsewhere. She was left behind. I still feel sad thinking about her. I couldn’t help set her free.

The raiding party just couldn’t locate her?
No, they didn’t find her. And I found out from other friends later that my friend was sold to some other place.

Why are they sold from one place to other?
Yes, they do that. If they find that someone is trying to run away then they are sold immediately to some other place. That’s what they do, it seems.
Section 5
How long did you stay there?
I stayed there for about four months.

Many customers came day after day?
Customers do not care about old workers. There are many customers when new recruits arrive. I had to service 20-30 customers in a day. If the boys came to sleep [through] the night, you had to charge 500-600. Otherwise a customer is charged 75 rupees IC during the day.

How much did you get out of that?
We don’t get a single paisa [100 paisa = 1 rupee] from there. Just whatever the customers give us separately.

Were you allowed to keep money the customers gave you separately?
Yes, we can, but only if you hide it. Otherwise it is not allowed. I suffered as much as I could take. But thanks to the support of Maiti Nepal we were able to come to Kathmandu, were able to come here.

How long has it been since you came to Kathmandu?
About two years.

Now, you work at Maiti Nepal?
Yes, I work here. I work as a counsellor.

What kind work do you do?
Counsellor. Like, those who have been sold and have returned are suffering lots of pain and grief. They aren’t able to tell others or share this with anybody. We go to them and talk to them, hoping to lessen their grief and we give them advice.

Now do you go to your mother?
I do. I go frequently. But from the beginning I always wanted to come to Nepal, no? People may detest me, do what ever they do, but I always wished to return to Nepal. That wish of mine has also been fulfilled. When I arrived at Maiti Nepal the brothers and sisters here gave me encouragement. Because of their encouragement I am able to work this much.

How did you feel when you realised you had been sold?
I just couldn’t believe I had been sold. I felt like I had fallen off the roof. I collapsed when that woman said I had been sold. That woman said, “Your brothers have sold you and aren’t going to come to get you.” That’s what she said.

Do all the girls use ‘tanh’ [disrespectful form of the pronoun ‘you’ in Nepali] there?
The Madam uses ‘tanh’, ‘tanh’ to us. That’s the kind of language they use. Moreover, they say, “You come from Nepal like a bear and after coming here you start acting [like one?].” They use foul words. They say things like that to us. Once you come to a house like that, you can forget about not wanting to do bad things. They tell you what to do. They use full force. They send a boy the first time. That’s what they do to us. They force us, when the man is sent for the first time. They do like this to us. A big room is partitioned into smaller rooms, a place like this. Then girls are made up and kept here. They also provide cosmetics. Girls are asked to apply make-up; after they are made up they have to sit there. But I refused to wear make-up, even to sit in a place like that. They give all the stuff for make-up, food, clothing, and a place to live.
Section 6
Did you stand on the road wearing make-up?
Not on the road; in a room, in the house.

You just sit around?
Yes, you sit all by yourself. The boys come themselves [to choose a girl], it’s not like other places where old women sit and call, not like that. In our place, there was a door like this, a call bell like this, and we had to sit there. And the customers come and if they like it, they take the girls.

Customers come searching on their own?
Yes, they come on their own, on their own. And also because that was a very old place old customers also come to that place. And when a man comes there once, that man tells his friends about it. That friend comes and he tells his friend and he tells his friend, it happens like that. Like this, the number of customers increases.

Don’t the wives of the men who come there like that know about their visits?
They don’t know. If they had known, probably [the men] wouldn’t have come.

How did the customer come to you in the beginning?
In the beginning a Muslim man came and told me to go with him. And I went. I felt like crying and I cried. He asked me why I was crying, what had happened. And I had to talk though it was frightening to talk. I told him how I was sold. I told him to take me away from there, [saying] “I want to go, and don’t want to work like this.” I spoke to him like that. Some men are gentlemen. I told the first man who came everything. He said you are a beginner; you are new. Since somebody has sold you I will not do this to you. And he didn’t do that, either. He told me to give the money the first customer had given me to the Madam, and I went to inside to give it [to her]. That man went off. Then again other men came. They asked me to undress and do other things. I was reluctant to undress [in front of them] since I had never done that. If we didn’t undress they would go to tell the Madam. They would complain about us.

Do four, five men come for one girl?
They won’t make us do that. For example if I have five, six customers, I have to service them one by one.

They make them wait?
They wait.

When would you get time to sleep and rest if you have 20, 25 customers in a day?
It is very difficult. Customers come even when we are sleeping in the morning. We had to service customers from five o’clock till one o’clock in the morning. I can’t describe how we felt; we were given vitamins and medicines. Madam gave us injections; she used to do such things.

What were the injection and medicines for?
It is painful, very painful. That’s why they gave me injections and would take me for injections. It was very painful for me down there so I couldn’t service customers because I found it very painful. When I couldn’t service customers, they would ask for the reason. If they found out about my pain, they would immediately take me for injections.
Section 7
All the girls would go for injections?
Yes, everybody used to go. And for new girls, on the way we used to be accompanied by two people – one on each side. They used to do that to me.

Those escorts - were they men or women?
Women. Nepalis. All are Nepalis there.

All of them Tamangni?
Most of them. Most of them are Tamang.

Where are they from?
All from Nepal, from villages in Sindhupalchowk, Nuwakot.

What language is spoken? Nepali or Hindi?
Among themselves they talk in Tamang language.

And you all?
We have to speak in Hindi.

Does the Madam also speak in Hindi with the Nepalis?
Yes, she speaks in Hindi. Among ourselves we speak in Nepali, and if an Indian comes we speak in Hindi.

Having relations with many men can cause problems of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases – nothing like that happened?
No, that didn’t happen. We never knew anything about HIV/AIDS. We knew that we could get pregnant having sex without a condom. We didn’t know about other things.

Would all the customers use condoms?
Yes, all of them used condoms. Some of them didn’t want to use a condom, but we would refuse. We wouldn’t entertain that type. Because we never entertained those types; even in the beginning.

Were there girls with HIV there?
What seems to be done there is that those with a disease like that are sent home. I asked two, three friends of mine what happens to girls with AIDS. They are not kept here, they said. They said they are sent home.

How was the food?
They give dal (lentils), rice, vegetables and meat. We are given meat during Dasain (Nepal’s main festival) and Tihar (festival of lights, following Dasain) and beer; Fanta was provided. These are the festivals celebrated there. Food is provided according to your liking if you tell them. They pretend to love us because we bring them money. The more customers serviced the more money earned – that means more money could be earned. They coaxed me to work when I was new, by pretending to love me. I was given good clothes brought for other girls. Good food, too, was given. They did that.
Section 8
Were you beaten for refusing to take a customer?
Yes, we would be beaten really badly. And it wasn’t good to make friends with all the girls inside.

You were beaten badly?
I was beaten. I had never experienced that kind of beating in my life. From top to bottom, there wasn’t a place where I was not beaten. I had blue marks all over the body. After the beating we were forbidden to tell the customer. If they ask, we have to say we fell down the stairs. And there was an ointment available to remove the marks – and they would themselves apply that ointment on me. Two-three days after the application of medicine the marks disappear. That medicine was like that. If anybody asked we were to tell them about the fall.
We were coaxed all the time. “We were also sold like you,” they used to say. We are doing this kind of work because we were not able to return to Nepal. You shouldn’t have come but you have; now do your work well, pay back the money, then if you feel like going home you can go. If you don’t want to go, you stay back here. If you insist on going back you will be sent back in two years’ time. They said we would get 15-16 tolas (one tola = 10.6 gms) of gold and jewellery. ”You will get 2-3 lakhs money (lakh = 100,000), and you will get clothes,” they would say.

You were not allowed to make friends even with the ones you stayed with?
No, we were not allowed to. I became friendly with one of the girls, and the Madam beat me. Yes I was beaten. We [just] stayed like that. They put on the television; we sit and watch television. And if a customer comes we have to go with the customer.

The customer chooses girls by himself?
Yes, he chooses.

Do they talk and [then] choose or just [choose] like that?
Just like that.

Do they come to where you are sitting to ask you?
We are sitting there and they say “Chalo” [“Let’s go” in Hindi].

And where do they take you then?
Inside, there are rooms. There were 13 small rooms in that place. It’s like that. And so we go to such a room.

Would they send girls home after staying there for long?
One girl, at least, was sent. In front of my eyes, but I don’t know how much gold and jewellery she was wearing. How much money was sent, that, too, I don’t know. But one girl was, indeed, sent.

Was that after two years then?
Not after two years. After staying there for 11, 12 years. They only say two years. They just say that. Only after they are sure the girl won’t run away do they send you [for a visit home?], it seems. There was this younger sister, Maili (name means second-born girl), in the place I was staying. Poor thing, she didn’t have customers coming to her. She was abused verbally, and she tried to run away one day. That time I was sick and sleeping. And she tried to run away, and succeeded, too. But while she was down there she was caught and brought back by the people who bring the tea. There is so much ill treatment there. Even the old girls are not spared if they aren’t strong. There is no sympathy. After that girl was brought back a person went to grind salt and chilli. The paste was applied to the girl’s genitals. That girl was beaten so badly. I was sleeping. And she was beaten black and blue all over the body and hands, and on top of that chilly was put inside her. And after that the Madam told everyone not to give her water even if she asked for it. That’s what she said. And that poor girl got up, crying, and came to me. She asked me what to do and said, “This is what they have done to me.” And there was talk going around about selling her to another place. But after that we came out from there, no?
Section 9
You couldn’t bring her back with you?
It so happened that immediately after we decided to run away, the police came to get us. The police raided the place where we were staying. As soon as the police arrived, three, four girls were taken somewhere else from the side. They had also taken her. We were set free by the police on the same day, and we had no idea which house and what kind of a house she was in.

Where is that girl from?
Don’t know, must be from somewhere here in Kathmandu, I guess. She used to say from around Lagankhel.

They say there are only girls from Sindhupalchok and Kavre there?
But it is wrong to say that. To say that only the uneducated are sold there is also wrong. Because even many educated ones are being sold. There are many educated girls, too; they are also being sold. They are coaxed, misled and taken. Many are taken away with the promise of marriage and later sold. Now, we were not married and taken. We were made “sisters” and taken. As for me, this happened to me because I trusted my good friend.

After all of you returned from Bombay, were the people who sold you all caught?
One of them was caught, and the police are still looking for the person called Rudra.

Who are the others who took you like that?
One was Rudra Basnet, one was Bikash and one was called Fistey. There were three of them.

What is Fistey’s full name?
He was known as Fistey. Don’t know his full name.

And the one known as Bikash?
The person called Bikash was said to be a reporter. Rudra is probably a Basnet [his last name, indicating he is Chettri caste].
Section 10
You trusted a person whose surname itself you did not know?
I went because I trusted my friend.

How old were you then?
I was 19 years old.

Am 23 years old.

The one you called aunt earlier, who is she?
She is my own mother’s sister.
And where does she live?
She lives in Swayambhu.

Have you been living with your aunt since you were very young?
It’s like this. From very young I never got my own mother’s affection, nor a father’s love. It happens, not getting affection. If anyone had given me a little bit of affection probably I, too, might have become something. That’s how I feel. Even at Auntie’s I couldn’t get much affection, couldn’t get a mother’s love, either - forget about getting that of a father. Thus since I was very young, because I got no affection I was running about in search of affection. I wished somebody would give me a little love, it seemed. Even after I grew up my uncle married again. He married again after 16 years. After that it became more difficult for me to stay there. They would say things that hurt. I was compelled to leave the house and came to live with my mother and stepfather. My own father died when I was two years old.

Other children?
There’s no one. I am the only one.

Does your present father love you?
Now he treats me well, he loves me. Baba (stepfather) works in the Nagarpalika [Municipality]. Mother stays at home now.

They didn’t make you tell any stories about Bombay after you came back from there?
They didn’t.

Where are you staying now?
I live here [at Maiti Nepal], and work here. And if I feel like it, sometimes I go to my mother’s.

Do you like staying in Maiti Nepal?
I like it. I wasn’t able to study earlier, now what I feel is that since I can read a little, now I wish to do something in life.

What kind of work do you wish to do now?
I do counselling now. If now and then there is a need to guard the border, I do guard the border, too.
Section 11
Do you get paid in cash for work?
Yes, I do.

It’s become good now, isn’t it?
Very, very good.

Which dance restaurant did you work in earlier?
My friend used to work in Rodighar restaurant, and I in a restaurant named Apsara. I used to work as a waitress.

How did you come to know the man named Fistey, then?
That I don’t know. That friend knew him. I used to work in a different place and she in another. The two of us met only in the evening when it was time to go the flat.

Two of you lived in the same room?
Yes. Because my house was far away I had got permission from my mum to stay there. My friend said she knew the dai; “I know him very well,” she used to say.

How many days were you coaxed about the diamond business?
My friend introduced me after that to those two boys. And what the dais said was: “You two will go after a week because two, three girls have already gone with diamonds earlier.” “You will go a bit later,” they said, and kept us waiting for two, three days. And so we waited. After that those two men came to get us at Lagankhel. They told us “Get ready and wait at a certain time and we will come and get you.” And we kept on waiting there. They came to get us. After coming to get us, the fellow called Rudra introduced us to the main man (leader). Presently, the one called Rudra is in jail and out of the two, one is yet to be caught.

Which one have they not been able to catch?
The one called Bikash. He used to call himself a reporter. He had so many names, we came to know later. Bikash and Bishal, both were his names.

Where is that person from? Even that you do not know?
I don’t know. If we knew all those things we probably would not have been trapped. Just that, I went trusting a friend, and it’s turned out like this now.

Where were you taken from?
Were taken from Pashupatinagar, it seems. I think from there, we didn’t know at all.

They give you medicine (drugs) during a meal, isn’t it? The Fanta that was given to you after you came down from Manakamana was opened and given to you by Rudra and Bikash?
Yes, they opened the bottles and gave them to us, just below Manakamana. We were outside. They went to the hotel and talked as if they were acquainted from before. Those boys had a talk. And they came from inside with the Fanta and we drank that Fanta.
Section 12
You felt as if you lost your sense immediately after drinking the Fanta?
After drinking, I remember getting into a truck. After that, where they took us, what they did… I don’t know anything. After getting off the truck once, we were taken to a very quiet place.

But they check at the border. How did they get you through the border?
They didn’t take us through that kind of border. They had taken us through some internal routes. The two had told us to say we were just going there (nearby) if the police asked. We didn’t pay much attention to that. That’s how we were taken – using internal routes.

Did they make you carry something, saying it was diamonds?
They made us carry something.

What did they make you carry?
They gave small cloth pouches to everyone. They had given us those goods before, saying they were diamonds. I didn’t trust them so I opened the packet they gave me and looked – I went alone, opened and looked. It was difficult to believe they were actually diamonds. They had given us those pouches of diamonds.

They sparkled like diamonds?
Yes, it was something shiny like that.

How much was it?
There were very, very small. There were many.

You said earlier that you were sold to many places there?
From the first place I was taken to, I was sold to two other places.

What was the name of the Madam?
Lina Tamang, Maili Tamang.

The reason for being sold from one place to another was because you didn’t obey them?
Yes, after refusing to obey. The first time after I was taken from here, I tried to run away. The day after that the Madam sold me to another place. There, too, after I refused to work like that, I was again taken to other place and sold. In Poona itself. They seem to have many houses, a minimum of 1,500 houses. If you don’t agree to work in one place, they sell you to another place. They are like that.

The first Madam bought you from the broker for 80,000, isn’t it? How much were you sold for the second time?
I have no idea.

Surely they sell to make a profit?
Well, it must be like that.

Whichever customer came, the money is paid to the Madam first?
Yes, all the Madams will be sitting outside. Customers come and take the girls they fancy inside. And they tell us to bring the money and come. You take the money, go with the money and give it to them.
Section 13
How do the Madams live, do they also have husbands and children?
They don’t. That Renu Tamang has children. She has a boy and a girl, but I don’t know whether they are actually hers. They are very young.

Where are the children kept?
They are there, in that kind of place. And the children are sent to school. They are sent in the morning and brought back in the evening. If somebody gets pregnant after having been careless, it will be many months after conception. And after the child is born they will keep that girl also, the mother in one place and the child in another.

Are they looked after well during delivery?
That I haven’t seen, but I have heard from people there. Mother and child are not kept at the same place. I believe the mother is kept in one place and the child in another place.

Do they make them abort the baby, too?
They also make them abort the baby. If the girls don’t say anything even after conception, signs of pregnancy show up after three, four months. When abortion becomes difficult then only they are allowed to deliver the baby.

What is the name of the Indian who helped you get out of there?

He used to come there regularly?
He used to come once a week.

Would he always come to you?
In the beginning he used to go with my friend Vidhya, the one who had gone with me. She belonged to a different Madam. She had told him about our desire to get out of this place and about having a friend too. She is trying, too, Vidhya had told him. She had given him my name. And that Indian asked who I was and [told them] to call me. And I was summoned. Then I too told him everything and he helped. It is through him that I came here. He contacted Maiti Nepal and went to Maiti Nepal.

How many times did that man came to you?
He came three, four times.

Did that man come to Maiti Nepal of Kathmandu first or to the one in Bombay?
He came here to Kathmandu. I had sent him with the addresses of my family. He went to my family and informed them. After that my family came to Maiti Nepal, Kathmandu. After they came here, through him the matter reached Bombay.

That Indian man, what kind of work he does?
He may be working for RX (some private company) or in some [other] company.

Do you still in meet him now?
Not in recent times. Some time ago he had once come to Bhairawa (an India-Nepal border town) with Bal Krishna sir. I met him that time.
Section 14
So, some people with good hearts also seem to come to that kind of place, isn’t it?
Yes. He is also a very good man. Without his help I probably wouldn’t even have been able to get out of that place.

Many others are forced against their will to spend their lives in that kind of place. Don’t you consider yourself fortunate that you could get out within four months?
I feel that way. Now, you have to try and compare yourself with others, isn’t it?
I consider myself lucky. The way others have contracted HIV - that has not happened to me. I was able to come back fast. That is what makes me very happy. But I don’t like to remember the days I spent there.

Had you ever thought that this would happen in life?
I never thought so. Perhaps nobody thinks like that. But it happened to me. I want to forget the things that happened.

Do you want to get married?
In life, support is needed. My pains, my past incidents; if somebody understands, if he is willing to accept me even after knowing everything, I will get married.

You haven’t met any friend like that?

Don’t you feel you could pass the SLC (School Leaving Certificate)? You still have time.
There is, but I don’t feel like studying. I am learning English one hour each day, let’s see if anything happens from this.

Has Maiti Nepal sent you?
Yes, as a staff member.

How do you think you have changed since coming to Maiti Nepal?
I had come to totally detest Nepalis because I was taken to India and sold by a Nepali. After coming back from there I used to get angry just looking at Nepali people. But there is training at Maiti Nepal for up to six months. I underwent training for six months. As one by one the days passed by I felt like making friends. After that, slowly, I got used to it. After coming out of that place in India I used to be afraid of talking to important people at first. Now I am not frightened to talk, I’ve got used to it.

Were you brought straight to Kathmandu after the police conducted the raid in Poona?
I stayed in Bombay for about two days and then came to Kathmandu.

What was the training for six months in Maiti Nepal?
There’s stitching and cutting, stitching and cutting. Then things like making bags, stringing beads, [working at] looms.
Section 15
Beside that, to talk like others?
There is conversation training, too. There’s study, too, and counselling takes place.

Were there educated girls in the Indian brothels?
There are equal numbers there. There are the educated and the uneducated.

Have Kathmandu girls reached there, too?
Girls from Kathmandu have also reached there. Mostly the ones working in cabin restaurants (restaurants with partitions making small “cabins”, where waitresses are said to “entertain” male customers) have reached there. Of course, most of the workers in cabin restaurants have come to work in Kathmandu from the hills. And thus most of the girls sold there are from the hills.

But the girls working in the cabins are quite sharp and smart. How did they get there?
Just like me, they were coaxed, misled and taken there.

Don’t they say they want to return to Nepal?
Many don’t want to return because they’ve been there 13, 14 years. When the police arrived I begged them to leave the place. “Let’s go, let’s not stay here,” I said. But they said they wouldn’t go. “What will we get if we go to Nepal? We’ll get nothing but misery. We’ve been sold like this, we’ve become prostitutes. We will not be accepted by society. We won’t go,” they said. “Even if we go, we will go only with money,” that’s what they say. And even the policemen who come to raid say they will take only those who wish to go and not those who do not want to leave.

Do the police come there frequently?
They do. When it’s time for the police to come we are hidden deep inside as if we are buried in the earth. They have made such places to hide the girls. There are such places. They hide you inside cupboards. They have separate places just for hiding us. Somehow they get information even before the police arrive. And they ask us to hide. They don’t call the police “police” but call them Asang (“uncle” in Tamang language – here used as code/slang). “The Asang are coming today, nobody make a noise, anybody who makes a noise will not be spared,” they used to tell us.

How would they know that the police are coming?
They already have contacts. They are bribed. I think the police of the lower ranks provide information such as [saying] a senior police officer is coming today. That’s how it was with them. And we were hidden inside; the police would come and go back with nothing.

The police wouldn’t see the girls?
No, they wouldn’t be seen. They would be kept in such a place. There are so many such places inside there.

The police don’t search for such places?
They wouldn’t know at all. When they have information about the arrival of another police person, the girls are immediately shifted to another place. In the beginning I was shifted to another house when the police came. And later I was hidden in the interiors inside the cupboard on the wall.
Section 16
Don’t the police arrest and take the Madam?
No, they don’t.

They have a licence and stay?
Yes, it’s like that. They have a licence.

Police customers don’t come?
We won’t know who comes, whether the police or whoever. Sometimes, when we asked, “Where are you from, what do you do?” some of them would say they were the police. The police... now how many times... I have seen twice or thrice. Even when the police came, they didn’t come in police uniform, they would come in other dress (plain clothes). The Madam would give money to the police who came in other dress, that’s what she would do. The Madam used to give money regularly to the people who brought tea. She would tell them to eat this, wear new clothes, she would say, and give them money. That is why when that Maili tried to run away, the man who brought the tea caught her and brought her back. Hoodlums would come around the alleys; all of them were given money by the Madams.

You weren’t allowed to come out from there a single day in four months?
When I was sick they took me to hospital two, three times; not [at all] after that.

You weren’t allowed to go anywhere else?

You always had to stay inside?
Always inside.

How did you feel when you weren’t allowed to talk to friends?
How was it? I can’t tell you now [how bad it was]. Suppose somebody is kept in a tank full of water - how suffocating it would be, isn’t it? Just like that, I also felt absolutely suffocated and longed to escape from there. You couldn’t speak to anyone, couldn’t make friends with anyone. If you felt like sleeping then you went to sleep; or else if clients came you had to service any number of clients that came.

How long does one client take?
Seventy five rupees is charged for one time, it takes about five minutes, ten minutes. The Madams tells us not give too much time to men who pay 75. But if the person books for three, four hours, then you have to stay for three, four hours. If there are men who do it once or twice, then like five minutes, ten minutes.

Do the Madams teach you how to perform?
They don’t actually teach. When customers come, make them happy that’s all they say. They wouldn’t say “Do like this, do like that.”

Did customers want any other type of sex beside normal sex?
My friends used to say this or that happened to [them]. Some wanted to do it from the back, things like that. It didn’t happen to me. Even we are disgusted with that kind of act. Even when we are working under compulsion, if they say they want to do this, do that, if you go according to their demands then we could also contract terrible diseases later, no? We know, and so even when they ask for it, we don’t agree. I was sold off to such a place; I had to do that kind of bad thing, too. But the Madam who bought me last used to treat me well. Maybe because I was earning a lot. Compared to other girls I was better. Maybe because of that they used to bring me clothes every week and would give me food according to my wish. They used to ask me what I wanted to wear. They used to bring me any type of clothes I wanted to wear. They used to bring food from outside. After they brought the food, they would give me [some], too. They allowed me to sleep in the bed they slept in. You know when I had my periods... during periods when I even said I wouldn’t do that they would let me go to sleep. The other girls had to do it even when they had periods.
Section 17
During periods, too?
They do that, it seems. I have seen during periods – there’s something like a pad, like cotton, but different, long, round – which is inserted there to block the flow of blood and then [you are] made to service clients. Indians who chew paan (betelnut in a leaf), pull rickshaws, really filthy – such filthy men would also come, but I didn’t have to entertain those kinds of customers.

Were you allowed to say you didn’t want to entertain those types of men?
Yes, I was allowed to. The Madam would tell me, entertain the men you like, you don’t have to entertain the men you don’t like, she would say.

Were you not forced in the beginning?
The first person that came didn’t have sex with me. The man who came some days later did it. When I didn’t agree he went to tell the Madam and I was frightened. He asked me to remove my clothes and I removed them. If I didn’t agree I would be beaten. Whether we could or not, whether it was painful or not, we had to do it. And if we complained of pain they would give us medicines.

In your view, do you think the girls who want to get out from there can do so if they try?
They cannot. The windows and doors there have steel grills. The windows have grills. There will be only one door to come in and go out of. There will be male guards on both sides.

There is no chance of getting out and running away?
There is no chance. The Madam sits outside 24 hours a day. The old girls are sitting outside 24 hours. Twenty-four hours, the guards are sitting outside. There is absolutely no chance of getting out. When they were first taking me to give me an injection I tried to escape on the way. But when you try to escape, no matter from which direction you go, whether you go from here or from there, you are still in the same place. In the beginning, when I was first being taken for an injection I looked from the tempo (three-wheeler taxi) and again when we were going again it was the same place, it looks the same. We don’t know where one goes from where. Then after that I thought: even if I run away from this place I will probably reach the same type of place, and so I didn’t run away.

While you were there, did you ever hear of the police raiding brothels in the vicinity and freeing girls?
I did hear, I heard once or twice. But again what I heard was that those girls were brought back to the same place, and who did that? Maybe they were bribed and so they were brought back, the girls used to say.
Section 18
All were Nepali girls only?
Yes, only Nepali girls. There were no Indian girls. There were only Nepali girls at the house where I was and even at the two places I was sold to.

Do you know the name of that place?
Poona, Welcome building. It was called Welcome building. A huge building and what number that is, that I don’t know.

It was all like that throughout the entire building?
All like that only. There are numerous flats.

Each flat is a separate brothel?
Yes, a separate brothel. It’s just like a house.

With different Madams?
Yes, different ones.

How many girls would have been there, just in that Welcome building?
About a hundred girls at the least.

How many would be there then in all the places in Poona?
There are many. There must be one and a half to two lakhs (one lakh is 100,000).

There couldn’t be that many?
I am guessing.

Just Nepali girls?
They have so many houses there.

How much would the Madam earn each day from just one girl?
Well, you know the coins in a carom board game (popular board game with plastic counters/coins)? Well, we are given those carom coins in a box. They keep a record on the basis of the carom coins - how many came in a day, how much was earned, is calculated on the basis of that.

What is done with that coin?
Now, if a person comes for one time, three of those coins have to be given to the Madam. You give the coins and the money, too, to the Madam. The Madam would keep the coins, too. As the coins are handed over, the container with the girls’ coins (carom coins) keeps getting emptied. The next day the container gets filled, that’s how it was. I have seen it so often – three, four Madams together carrying bags full of money and coins enter a room and begin counting money.

Do the Madams send that money to Nepal?
I don’t know about that. Many white men visit that place, too, but I never went with a white or black man.
Section 19
Aren’t you sad that the people who sold you have not been punished?
Of course, I am. Instead, we are harassed by lawyers and police here after we come back to Nepal. The way they question – it is like scratching a wound. They question us as if we went knowingly. They have done this willingly, that’s what they think. We have come back from that sort of place with all the pain and sufferings and even then we go when we have to file a complaint with the police.
When we go to file a complaint, the men there question us and ask: “How many did you sleep with? How did you sleep with them? You are this and you are that.” After I came back from there, when I went to the Jawalakhel police station and a man was writing down the complaint, there were many boys and other men present. Those policemen should have thought about how awkward it would be for this girl, being questioned like that in the presence of everyone, but they don’t do that. Forget about giving us justice - instead, in front of everyone they ask us questions like with how many we slept with and [what we did]. They shame us in public. It’s more painful because of this.