A special thank you to our partner, GPI, for providing the following news stories to us.
KATHMANDU, NEPAL -- It was 6 p.m. and people poured onto the roads as evening rush hour began. Amidst the crowd, Maya Thapa, 30, stood in small gully just behind Baneshwor, a crowded neighborhood in the center of the capital city. She was sweating heavily. She looked anxious and desperate. She was carrying a small bag filled with Buprenorphine, a painkiller derived from opium and known as Tidigesic on the streets. Tidigesic is illegal.
After waiting for 15 minutes, two young men approached her, paid her for the drugs and quickly left. As a reward from her dealer for making the sale, Thapa received a Tidigesic injection. She took the needle from her dealer and hurried to her rented room, giving herself the injection in the wrist. As the drugs entered her body, her desperation morphed into satisfaction and release.
Drug use and addiction have become exceedingly common in Nepal, though the available statistics are limited and published reports are often contrary to one another. According to a government report published in 2006, the most recent statistics available, the total number of drug users in Nepal is 46,310, among which 42,954 are assumed to be male and 3,356 female.
Advocacy organizations working with users here say the number of intravenous drug users in Nepal is likely to be closer to 150,000, about 5 percent of which are women.
Ananda Pun, executive director of Recovering Nepal, an NGO working for rehabilitation and treatment of intravenous drug users (IDUs), says, “We have estimated the total number of drug user on the basis that in every one user who is seen taking drugs, three users take it with him, unseen.”
Thapa, who chose not to use her real name for fear of reprisal, and her husband, were addicts for more than a decade. Thapa says at the height of her addiction both she and her husband required as many as three injections everyday. Each dose of the drug costs about 100 rupees, or $1.50 USD. Their $9 per day habit monopolized their meager income and left Thapa unable to care for herself or her infant son.
”We skipped lunch and dinner, but we never skipped having drugs. When we ran short of money, we used to sit with my husband’s friends and share their syringes,” Thapa says.
Journey into Addiction
Thapa’s journey into drug addiction started after she was married in 1991. She was just 13 years old when she eloped with her husband, a tour guide in Kathmandu. Thapa said after they married, her husband would come home late and always seemed quiet and indifferent.
”I was too young to understand why he behaved in such a way. I thought he was just tired after work,” she says.
One year after their marriage, at the age of 14, Thapa gave birth to a son. It wasn’t until her son was six months old that she discovered her husband was a drug addict. She vividly remembers the first time she saw her husband ”light a rolled
HARHARE, ZIMBABWE -- The late Marshal Munhumumwe, a legendary Zimbabwean artist, once wrote “Vamwene vangu vanoshusha,” which means ”My mother-in-law is an annoying, vexatious and an interfering woman.”
The phrase aptly describes the life of Emelda Svosve, 36, who abandoned her marriage after experiencing severe abuse at the hands of her mother-in-law. From physical to
BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE -- Locked in a filthy cell that was built for eight inmates, but filled with more than 25 women, Nyasha Maphosa, 32, a sex worker based in the town of Gokwe in the Midlands province, writhes in agony as the torture of the previous night takes its toll on her diminutive figure. She has endured 48 hours of detention after being picked up by the Zimbabwe Republic Police patrol team. The charge: loitering for the purposes of prostitution.
At her shabby one bedroom cottage, a day after her release from detention, Maphosa relives her ordeal, berating the police officers for their cruelty.
“I was just leaving the pub with two female friends when a mounted patrol team ordered us to stop for questioning,” says Maphosa. “Two of the officers were familiar to me because they were my casual clients,” she claims. "Initially I thought they wanted to do business. I was surprised when they handcuffed us and took us to the charge office,” Maphosa added.
At the charge office, Maphosa and her friends were told that they were under arrest for loitering for the purposes of prostitution. No statement was recorded by the police. Maphosa denies any allegation that she had broken the law. And, she says her stay in custody was horrific. Police officers would occasionally visit the cell and take her and her friends to another office where they would ridicule them and order them to perform demeaning and painful acts, such as demonstrating sexual acts, sleeping on wet floors and forcing them to relieve themselves in
BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE -- Nkululeko Ncube, 21, says he is a shadow of who he once was. The once vivacious and gregarious young man
KATHMANDU, NEPAL -- “Be alert! You might be sold and your life ruined,” warns a poster hanging on the wall of Maiti Nepal, one of seven nongovernmental organizations working to prevent human trafficking and providing rescue and rehabilitation services to women and girls who have been trafficked and sold into prostitution.
The big, bright room at the center of the Maiti Nepal offices is adorned with posters, pictures and slogans that aim to build awareness about the unrelenting problem of female sex trafficking in Nepal. Today, there are tables and chairs set up on the right side of the room where two officers are busily providing information to the center’s many visitors. In the opposite corner a large bookshelf is neatly packed with books, most about the horrors human trafficking. A ceiling fan was whirls incessantly, distributing cool air throughout the room.
Geeta Tamang, 24, a petite woman with a round face, almond shaped eyes and a wide smile enters the room with a tray of tea for the visitors. Tamang has lived and worked at Maiti Nepal since 1997 when she was rescued from a brothel in the Indian city of Pune.
Tamang, who is from Nuwakot, a neighboring district of Kathmandu, was sold into the sex trade when she was 10 years old. She was forced to work as a prostitute for more than four years before a team of investigators from Maiti Nepal rescued her.
From the start, Tamang led a troubled life, but she says she never dreamed she would end up in a brothel.
Tamang was the only child born to a blind mother and an ailing father, who died when she was three years old. Poverty and her mother’s condition left Tamang to bear the responsibility of providing for her family. She says that as a small child she used to work as a daily wage laborer in her village. Neighbors employed her with petty tasks like fetching grass for cattle, firewood, water and other
Global Center for Journalism and Democracy
Dan Rather Communications Building, Room 201, Huntsville, TX 77340
Phone: (936) 294-4399