Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bangladesh/Nepal: Open Border Fuels Trafficking

BANGLADESH/NEPAL BORDER - Porous borders along Nepal and Bangladesh have fuelled the growth of cross border trafficking in and around the tea estates in Darjeeling. And here intense poverty and unemployment, a deadly cocktail, has forced many to the flesh trade.

The Maichi Bridge on the Bengal-Nepal border witnesses late hour rush as visitors on both sides rush back home before the borders shut down for the night.

Besides the long lines of commodities waiting to be smuggled into India at the bridge are young men and women quietly pushing their business - soliciting for sex work.

And security personnel are the usual clients.

A few kilometers away is Khalpara, Siliguri's red light area where many teenagers from tea estates end up earning a livelihood for themselves and their families.

''In north Bengal mainly Jalpaiguri most of the tea gardens are closed which has lead to poverty. Children also see others of their age coming from Delhi and earning so much and get attracted to that and try and go that way. And in this situation dalaals take them to brothels,'' said Mrinal Ghosh, member, Child Welfare Committee.

But the money isn't so good there; the best options are tourists. With tourism picking up once again in the region, the onset of spring brings many young people to the hills.

Once the season ends they disappear earning them the nickname of flying sex workers...


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