Download The American government has named this years international ‘heroes’ for their efforts to End Modern-Day Slavery.
Almost all of the ten people who received the award are renowned lawyers and bureaucrats.
Only Charimaya Tamang from Nepal knows what it’s like to be trafficked.
Rajan Parajuli has her story from the brothels of South Asia to an Award ceremony in Washington.
Around 200 diplomats, US Government officials have gathered in a large auditorium hall in Washington DC.
Charimaya Tamang, who has been shunned by her family in Nepal, is named a hero by one of the world’s most powerful women, Hillary Clinton.
“My nerves and whole body was so warm that I could feel it. Suddenly I remembered my life in brothels, my struggle and all my dark days. I almost fainted. But Hillary Clinton hugged me tight and held me. When I looked at her, I felt I am at a different place and I am not alone now. This is the victory of all trafficked woman from Nepal to the brothels in India.”
Charimaya comes from Sindhupalchok, a remote district of Nepal.
In 1994 her neighbours sold her to a brothel in Kamathipura, the red light area of Mumbai.
She was just 16.
“I was cutting grass in the jungle that day. The four people came to me and asked me if I wanted to go with them in town. I said 'No'. They forced me and put something in my mouth. It must be drugs. I was unconscious after that. When I woke up I was already in India. I cried, begged for help. I looked out of the window of the taxi and cried for help. But no one helped me. I tried to escape but nothing worked.”
Charimaya was forced to work in the brothel for 22 months. She says she was mentally dead.
“I was made naked for the first time in my life. After that I had no more personal life. I had to do what they wanted me to do. That place is a hell, where women breathe, but they are not alive. I tried to hang myself from the ceiling, while no others were around. I used my shawl as rope. But unfortunately, the shawl frayed and I fell on the ground. I couldn't die.”
Indian Police raided the brothel in February 1996.
Charimaya was released with 400 other women under the age of 18. 200 of them were Nepalese.
They were all placed in a transit home in India. Six months later they returned to Nepal with the help of seven different Non-Governmental organizations.
Charimaya travelled home with joy and happiness.
But she was shocked by how she was greeted.
“The courtyard was full. Everyone was yelling at me. "You are sinful. Why did you come back? Why didn't you die or committed suicide? You will spoil our village.” All those sentences are still roaming in my ears. Some shouted, beat her and kicked her out of the village. I couldn't stay there for two hours. I was hurt, but I can understand that's what they learnt.”
Her story is not isolated one in Nepal...most trafficking victims are treated the same.
But Charimaya was not shamed into silence.
For the first time in Nepal she filed a criminal case against her neighbors who abducted her.
Four people were jailed for 10 years.
Charimaya with other trafficking survivors formed the group Shakti Samuha to help others.
“We have been helping trafficking victims to file the case into the police. We have been visiting door to door of rural villages to raise the awareness against trafficking. Now all women’s organizations and campaigns have come at one place to end the human trafficking.”
Now victims are demanding justice.
In 2009 174 traffickers were convicted and 119 cases tried in court.
Charimaya proudly shows her award. Her eyes sparkle.
She has dream to end trafficking in Nepal.
“Trafficking is also expanding day by day. Now women are not only taken to Mumbai or in India. Now traffickers are taking them to other countries too. Even women are sold illegal prostitution center in Kathmandu. I want to see all these victim women have justice. And I will fight for them.”
After she received the award, her family members in her village called and congratulated her for the achievement.