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Tricks of the sex trade

KATHMANDU (AsiaNews) : Young women from Asia are increasingly being lured with the promises of jobs overseas into the sex trade.

A 22-year-old from Nepal said that she was tricked by a promise that saw her end up in Tanzania. “Our job,” she explained, “was to dance and satisfy the sexual desires of the customers who came to the club and picked us. We could not tell our families what was happening. The owner always carried a loaded pistol, ready to shoot if we told anyone he was exploiting us.”

Another young woman was brought to Qatar. She explained, “Once I contracted HIV/AIDS, my captors threw me out.”

These are but two of the thousands of women from Nepal, Bangladesh and India who are sold every year as sex slaves to Africa and the Middle East, including areas in Syria dominated by the Islamic State.

One said that after she finished high school, she left home to look for work. “In Kathmandu, a friend of my brother told me I could go to Tanzania to work as a waitress in a restaurant,” she related. “He told me that I would get a good paying job, but had me promise not to tell anyone.”

She explained, “Then he took me to a hotel where five other women were staying. He took our passports and papers, and asked us to pay 200,000 Nepali rupees (about $14,715), which I did not have. So he told me I had a debt to him and that he would invest in me.”

After a few days, she was moved to India, where she and other women were passed on to an Indian agent, who brought them to a hotel in Delhi, where they were raped and threatened. From there, they ended up in Tanzania, in a strip bar.

“We were denied food, but were given stuff to increase our sex drive. We asked to be paid, but we were told that we had been sold, so we had to do everything we were told.”

Another said that her brother sold her in Qatar when she was just 18-years-old. “I was forced to have unprotected sex with up to 10 men,” she related. “I eventually contracted HIV/AIDS and was thrown out. Many girls are enslaved like me in these countries.”

These cases are far from isolated. The sex trade is growing in the Indian subcontinent. 

Recently, the Achham District Court in north-western Nepal, sentenced a 56-year-old man, Amar Bista, to 44 years in prison for selling his wife as a sex slave for 300,000 Nepali rupees ($22,460).