Kathmandu, March 4
Hundreds of years of ethnic discrimination has created a toxic cycle for the people of the Badi community in southwestern Nepal, where girls continue to follow their mothers into prostitution, often being depended upon to support their entire family financially.
After the beginning of the Badi movement nine years ago, Badi activists have secured several of their demands from the government, including the end of the use of discriminatory terms against Badi people, citizenship certificates to all Badi people, free education to Badi children, access to health care, and employment opportunities. Before citizenship certificates were allowed to pass down from mother to children, many Badi children born without knowing the identity of their fathers were deprived of all state-sanctioned rights and facilities. Badi children grew in illiteracy and poverty, forced to continue the flesh trade for survival.
However, the agreements have served only a small proportion of Badi people.
“Although the government built homes for Badi families as promised in 13 or 14 districts, they only did so for families who owned land. Most live on public land, on river banks, and even in animal shelters,” said Uma Badi, president of the National Committee for the Struggle of the Rights of the Badi Community.
Uma also said that the government has still not provided free education to Badi children, and only few members of the community have been given employment opportunities.
Cultural expert Padam Shrestha said that prostitution is too deeply entrenched in Badi families who see themselves with no other option to be ended through a few superficial policies. Girls as young as ten years old are encouraged by family members to take up clients to support the family.
A version of this article appears in print on March 05, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.