Saturday, August 19, 2006

Nepal, India urged to fight trafficking in women
Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:34 AM BST
By Gopal Sharma Reuters UK

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal and India need to step up efforts to fight trafficking of Nepali women and children for sex and include the crime in a future extradition pact, a top United Nations envoy said on Tuesday.

Thousands of poor and illiterate Nepali women, who are increasingly lured by pimps with false promises of finding jobs in India, are forced to work as sex workers there.

"Nepal should work with India to include trafficking as one of the offences in their extradition treaty," said Sigma Huda, special rapporteur of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during a visit to the Himalayan nation.

"Trafficking is definitely a big worry for Nepal and for the (South Asia) region," she said in an interview with Reuters.

Both countries are debating a new extradition treaty in a bid to control cross-border crimes.

Nepal, one of the world's 10 poorest nations, and India share 1,750 km (1,090 miles) open border and thousands of Nepalis cross over to economically-stronger India to find work.

Nepalis do not need passports or work permits for employment in India. Both countries share close economic, diplomatic, cultural and religious ties.

Activists say up to 7,000 jobless young Nepali women were trafficked to India annually. About 200,000 women from Nepal are estimated to be already working as prostitutes in India, Asia's fourth largest economy.

"It is a big crime. It is selling a human being just like a commodity," Huda said. "Women who are trafficked for sexual purposes are often affected by HIV/AIDS.

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