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Drugged, kidnapped and enslaved in brothel: how one Nepalese woman fought back

Charimaya Tamang was one of the first women in Nepal to prosecute the person who trafficked her. She now leads awareness-raising sessions in rural areas and runs a shelter for survivors of trafficking. Photo: Laura Sheahen/Caritas

By Laura Sheahen

“In the brothel, there were no windows. The only light was from the lightbulb—that was the sun and the moon for us.” Charimaya Tamang grew up in the hill country of Nepal, working on her family’s farm. She was used to the outdoors and sunshine and freedom. But after waking from a drugged sleep thousands of miles from her village, the sixteen-year-old was shut in a room behind three doors, each one locked after the other.

Unlike most girls from rural Nepal, Charimaya knew early on that the men who eventually abducted her were criminals. One had approached her in her village, complimenting her intelligence and her classroom work, suggesting she leave her home for better opportunities. “They’d say, ‘You have potential, you could work in a business,’” she remembers.

But Charimaya had read in a book about human traffickers who buy and sell unsuspecting people into forced prostitution, beggary or labour. She knew that people were sometimes promised jobs that didn’t exist, or taken to the big city without knowing what would happen next.

So she was wary, all the more so because she saw unfamiliar girls hidden in the upper floor of a small hut in her village. Though there was no high school where she lived, Charimaya was taking informal classes. She even pointed out to her fellow students that trafficking might be happening where they lived.

They had to drug her. Though she usually went to cut grass with other village women, one day she was in the forest alone. Four men grabbed her, tied her hands behind her back, and made her swallow a powder. Continue reading

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Filed under Advocacy, Asia, Migration, Nepal, Trafficking, Women