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Siliguri link to Nepal sex trade

Siliguri, Jan. 19: The Khalpara red-light area here is emerging as a major “wholesale trading” centre of children trafficked from Nepal. An NGO has attributed the phenomenon to the close proximity Siliguri has with eastern districts of Nepal.

“Siliguri has become the main transit point of human trafficking from Nepal to India and other countries as the town is contiguous to the Himalayan nation and it has better connectivity with rest of India. The Khalpara area of the town has now become a hub of trafficking and prostitution as girls are brought there from eastern Nepal districts of Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari,” said Anuradha Koirala, the chairperson of Maiti Nepal, the Kathmandu based NGO fighting human trafficking since 1993.

Today, the NGO organised a seminar in Siliguri to discuss the measures needed to be taken to arrest the trafficking from Nepal. “Because of easy and low cost transportation and lack of strict immigration rules, traffickers dump the children at Khalpara from where they are sold off to brothels in cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Calcutta and Pune,” said Koirala.

The NGO will approach brothel owners at Khalpara and convince them against using children in the flesh trade. “We may be their (brothel owners) enemies, but we will ask them not to engage children in prostitution. We intend to take the help of organisations like the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, which are working with sex workers to rescue children, for the purpose,” said Bishwa Khadka, the director of Maiti Nepal.

According to International Labour Organisation reports, around 12,000 women are trafficked from Nepal to India every year. “Of them, 70 per cent are children. Prostitution is a thriving business and children in the age range of six-nine are in high demand,” Koirala said.

The Maiti Nepal claimed it rescued at least 30 women a month while they were being trafficked to India for prostitution. The NGO has set up 10 “interception points” along the border for this purpose.

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