Taken from“Voice of Child Worker” No. 17/18, 1992, CWIN

For Maya, a Nepali teenage girl, life in her village was intolerable. Living in utter poverty with no job opportunities she decided to get out. So Maya and some other girls were taken by two men to Kathmandu where many carpet factories are located.

The work conditions in many of these carpet factories are appalling. Poor and helpless village children are treated very badly. They are closely supervised and punished if they take a break. The children are kept in cramped, dirty rooms and given watery meals only twice a day in return for their labour. The contractor does not normally pay them anything but simply pockets their rightful wage. If the children do receive a wage it is no more than USD$5-12 for a whole month of work, day and night. With this sum the children have to pay for rent, food, and miscellaneous expenses.

They cannot have visitors because there is strict security at the main gates. Many kids are in semi bondage because they have to work for many years to pay back a miserable sum that the contractors paid to their poverty stricken families back in the village. These child workers are mainly girls. Sexual assault is not uncommon.

After Maya had worked there for about six months, a woman from her home village who had lived in Mumbai offered to take her there to the big city. This was an absolute dream come true for Maya! … Maya and her friend Parvati were instead tricked and sold into a brothel in Sonagachhi, Calcutta. The elderly woman trafficker disappeared with the USD$650 she made from their sale.

After undergoing torture, cruelty and violence they found themselves giving in to the life of a sex slave in a foreign country. The starry-eyed mountain girls lost their identities and became part of the filth that characterizes Sonagachhi, where the majority of the 40,000 plus prostitutes from Nepal live.

After 2 years of this a couple of their regular customers rescued and married them. Unfortunately this did not mark the end of their suffering, for their husbands began bringing customers home, filling up their pockets by selling their own wives. In spite of his deceit and cruelty Maya had decided to live with her husband no matter how adverse the conditions were.

One day Maya’s husband took her to Mumbai. He sold her in Kamathipura, the biggest red light area in Asia harbouring around 100,000 prostitutes. He ran off with USD$400. Maya met many Nepali women there, most of whom had similar stories. She spent 28 months in a dark room receiving on average 4 – 5 customers daily.

Given no choice, Maya had to entertain schoolboys, sick old men, drunkards, those with STDs and also the violent. For her services she received 2 meals a day and the occasional tip from a customer. She became infected with a STD and was admitted to hospital where she underwent treatment for three months. A sympathetic doctor rescued her after she was identified as HIV positive.

She went back to her village and was received by her family to die.