Priya was just 12 when she was drugged by an aunt and dumped at a brothel in New Delhi. "I thought it was a cinema hall but then I realized they wanted me to do bad things," said the young Nepali woman, now 21, who was brought from her poverty-stricken village with the promise of a job as maid. \nPriya spent the next three years in the Indian capital's red-light district where she says she was forced to have sex with "all kinds of men from 13-year-olds to old men with no teeth". \n"They threatened me, saying they'd let me go if I worked for three years and earned 50,000 rupees (US$1,070) for them," Priya told Reuters. "Otherwise, they said they'd send me to a brothel in Bombay where I'd be locked in a room until I was old." \nToday, she's one of a lucky few to be rescued from sexual slavery -- in fact she now works with police, saving other women from brothels. But thousands of Nepali girls are trafficked across the 1,580km India-Nepal border and sold to brothels. \nSocial workers say the number of girls being trafficked from Nepal has increased in recent years because of AIDS. \n"There's a myth that having sex with a virgin can cure you of AIDS," said Roma Debabrata, president of STOP, a group that rescues girls from brothels. \nShe said some men with AIDS fork out up to 100,000 rupees (US$2,126) -- almost an entire year's starting salary for an executive -- for a virgin. \nThere are from 200,000 to 375,000 Nepali women in Indian brothels, according to a report the Indian non-governmental organization Prayas helped compile. \nAbout 30 to 40 percent of the total number of women in India's red-light districts are Nepali, Ravi Nair, executive director of the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, told Reuters. \nTrafficking of women from Nepal's hill communities began in the 19th century, when feudal lords recruited girls from the Helambu region north of Kathmandu to work as concubines. Owning "Helambu girls" became a mark of high social status. \nToday, the practice of keeping concubines has ended but the recruitment of women continues -- only now they are sold to Indian brothel owners who like them because of their fair complexions. \n"There are organized gangs and it's a multi-million-rupee trade," Nair said. "The problem is cross-border trafficking is not given the same importance as cross-border terrorism or trafficking of drugs." \nAlmost always the story is the same -- poor and illiterate girls as young as nine are sold by their families or lured to India with the promise of well-paid jobs as domestic or factory workers. \nOnce there, activists say they are sold to middlemen for US$200 to US$500 and then they must resign themselves to life as a prostitute or face gang rape and torture until they submit. \n"Their spirit gets destroyed," said Nair. \nA US-based non-governmental group, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, recounts the story of 13-year-old Mira from Nepal who arrived at a brothel on Bombay's Falkland Road, where thousands of women are displayed in zoo-like cages. \n"When she refused to have sex, she was dragged into a torture chamber in a dark alley used for breaking in new girls. She was locked in a narrow, windowless room without food or water," the report said. \nAfter she refused to have sex for a fourth day, she was wrestled to the floor and her head was smashed against concrete until she passed out. When she awoke, she was raped. "Afterwards, she complied with their demands," the report said. \nSome girls are rescued and some manage to escape but the numbers are few and far between. Many contract AIDS in India and are then sent back to Nepal where they are dismissed as "India's soiled goods." \nIndia has nearly four million people suffering from HIV/AIDS -- second only to South Africa -- and health experts warn the numbers could spiral if steps are not taken to control it. \n"Since 1997 we have rescued about 400 girls from brothels in New Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta," said Bishwa Khadka, an official at Maiti Nepal, a group helping rescue and rehabilitate trafficked girls. \n"Forty of them are still with us with AIDS and 10 have already died of AIDS while with us." \nFaced with the prospect of social ostracism at home, one 16-year-old Nepali who STOP rescued from a Delhi brothel said she didn't want to go home. \n"She said she did not want to be rescued because she had nowhere to go," said Debabrata.
I have to say I am more excited than usual at the outset of this trip. The journey starts by taking the train from Kaohsiung to Taitung County’s Guanshan Township (關山) on the Puyuma express. This much-improved service only takes a little over two hours, cut down from more than three hours in the past. The plan is to replicate a bike ride I did in 2008 from Taitung to Kaohsiung on the Southern Cross-Island Highway. Traveling with a touring bike and self-supported, I have everything I need to survive for the three days: camping gear, food, warm clothes and
Depending on who you talk to, beach cleanups are valuable opportunities to build environmental awareness, or well-intentioned yet Sisyphean attempts to reduce ocean pollution. There are also cynics who dismiss such events as nothing better than backdrops against which virtue-signaling millennials can take selfies. Ryan Hevern is in no doubt where he stands. “We can’t clean it all up, and there’ll be trash there again tomorrow. We know that, we aren’t naive. But if we can help people become more mindful, so they make minor adjustments to their everyday routine, we’ll have a more positive impact on the planet,” he says.
A weekend getaway where you can escape the summer heat, commune with nature among trees that sprouted before the time of Christ or enjoy landscaped gardens and comfortable accommodations is within easy reach of northern Taiwan. Experience a traditional garden with Chinese and Japanese influences, birdwatching, ecological tours of old-growth cypress forest and one of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) namesake villas set among orchards with a beautiful view of the Lanyang River (蘭陽溪) valley, all in the Makauy Ecological Park (馬告生態園區). The Northern Cross-Island Highway connects Taoyuan and Yilan counties, passing through misty conifer forests as it climbs over the Snow Mountain
May 16 to May 22 Lin Wen-cha (林文察) and his “Taiwanese braves” (台灣勇) arrived in Fujian Province’s Jianyang District (建陽) on May 19, 1859, eager for their first action outside of Taiwan. The target was local bandit Guo Wanzong (郭萬淙), one of several ruffians who had taken advantage of ongoing Taiping Rebellion to establish strongholds in the area. A strongman leader of the notable Wufeng Lin Family (霧峰林家), Lin had impressed Qing Dynasty rulers five years earlier by helping expel the remnants of Small Knife Society (小刀會) rebels from Keelung. Lin’s forces routed Guo’s gang in just 11 days, earning a formal