According to the U.S. State Department, some 10,000 to 15,000 women and girls from Nepal are trafficked to India and then sexually exploited each year.
Geeta was 9 when she began wearing makeup, staying up until 2 a.m. and having sex with as many as 60 men a day.
“I used to be really sad and frustrated with what was happening in my life,” she said.
The daughter of Nepalese peasant farmers, Geeta — now 26 — had been sold to a brothel in India by a member of her extended family. The family member had duped Geeta’s visually impaired mother into believing her daughter would get work at a clothing company in Nepal.
“The brothel where I was … there [were] many customers coming in every day. The owner used to verbally abuse us, and if we didn’t comply, [she] would start beating us with wires, rods and hot spoons.”
It was not until Geeta was 14 that a police officer rescued her and brought her to a safe house compound run by Anuradha Koirala. The 61-year-old woman and her group, Maiti Nepal, have been fighting for more than 16 years to rescue and rehabilitate thousands of Nepal’s sex trafficking victims.
“Families are tricked all the time,” said Koirala. “The trafficking of the girls is done by people who are basically known to the girls, who can lure them from the village by telling them they are getting a nice job. It’s a lucrative business.”
By raiding brothels, patrolling the India-Nepal border and providing safe shelter and support services, Koirala and Maiti Nepal have helped rescue and rehabilitate more than 12,000 Nepali women and girls since 1993.