About half of Bombay’s 100,000 prostitutes are young women bought in Nepal and then raped, beaten and held in brothels as virtual slaves, a New York-based human rights group said Monday.
Human Rights Watch blamed the governments of Nepal and India for permitting the traffic in Nepali women, sought by brothels in Bombay because of their light skin.
“Many of the victims are young women from remote hill villages and poor border communities of Nepal who are lured from their villages by local recruiters, relatives or neighbors promising jobs or marriage, and sold to brokers who deliver them to brothel owners in India,” the Human Rights Watch said in a report titled “Rape for Profit.”
Nepal seldom arrests traffickers and Indian policemen and other officials often patronize the brothels and protect their owners, it said.
“The willingness of Indian and Nepali government officials to tolerate, and, in some cases, participate in the burgeoning flesh trade exacerbates abuse,” the report said.
The report said 20 percent of prostitutes in Bombay, India’s financial capital, are under 18, and at least half may be infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.
“Many of the girls and women are brought to India as virgins; many return to Nepal with the HIV virus,” the report said.
The report was based on interviews with Nepali women working in brothels, brothel owners, local doctors, activists and lawyers in India.