Police have arrested five persons, including two women, for their alleged involvement in trafficking girls and forcing them into prostitution.

The suspects are Shyam Kumar Bhattarai, 24, and Suhana Tamang, 19, of Sindhuli, Muna Thapa Magar, 31, of Nuwakot, and Prakash Dhungel, 52, and Raj Kumar Sunar, 47, of Kathmandu.

They were rounded up from different places of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur yesterday.

According to Bhaktapur-based Metropolitan Police Range, Tamang promised one of the victim's father that she would get his daughter a job and took the 16-year-old girl to her rented house in Makalbari, Kathmandu.

Tamang then forced the victim to go to various hotels and lodges to have physical relationship with clients. Acting on a complaint, police launched an investigation to search for the girl and found that she was raped in Sundarijal-based Pathibhara Family Restaurant.

Police said Dhungel and Magar, owners of the restaurant, were immediately arrested.

Based on their statement, cops also took Sunar into custody.

The victim was raped by Sunar after Dhungel and Magar told the girl to have physical relation with him for money.

Officials said Thapa used to find young girls from economically poor and unsuspecting families and send them to various hotels, lodges and restaurants through Bhattarai, promising them decent jobs. They would also take the victims hostage under threat.

According to police, another victim had recently managed to escape. She is said to have reached her guardians. Meanwhile, police informed that further investigation was launched to establish their links and involvement in trafficking and forcing women and girls into sex trade. As many as 2,134 cases of rape were reported throughout the country last fiscal 2076-77.

The victims are from the age group of 3 to 70 years. Despite the rising number of rape victims coming forward with complaints, many cases go unreported as women and girls hide their status due to the social stigma attached to rape and the administrative hurdles they have to face while filing complaint.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 2, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.