The Himalayan Times, Anita Shrestha, 19th May 2017, Kathmandu
Sexual exploitation of children is on the rise in Nepal as recent studies suggest. However, while trafficking in girls and women for sexual purposes is largely recognised, young male victims face the danger of being overlooked due to gender stereotypes.
Most children who are sexually abused are boys and girls between 13 and 18 years and the average age seems to be falling.
Kasyap (name changed) of Kathmandu says his maternal uncle used to force him to perform oral sex on him when he was just 12 years old. However, when it became a routine affair and painful for him, he tried to complain it to his mother.
“My uncle threatened to kill me and I could never muster the courage to speak to my parents about it,” shares Kasyap, who is now a sex worker.
“Most of the victims of sexual abuse end up working as sex workers. Boys and girls, especially those from underprivileged and marginalised, religious and ethnic minorities or caste groups, those with disabilities, in institutional care and bonded child labourers are particularly vulnerable,” said Kabita Shah, a rights activist.
Shyam (name changed) of Budhanilkantha, 18, has been working as a sex worker for the last three years.“My single mother had difficulty raising me. When my friends told me that I could earn good money, I began working as a sex worker. Mostly men above 45 years of age are my clients.” He said his mother was unaware about this.
According to a study conducted by SathSath, an organisation working for male victims of commercial sexual exploitation, it found 300 children engaged in commercial sexual activities willingly or unwillingly.
“They are mostly found in areas where female sex workers solicit their customers,” said Shah.
Rupa Sharma, information officer at Youth for Social Transformation Nepal, said child sex workers were also found using social networking sites to solicit customers.
“It is very necessary for parents to take care of their children to prevent them from engaging in such activities,” said Sharma.
Tarak Dhital Executive Director of Central Child Welfare Board said that the risk of children engaging in commercial exploitation had been increasing of late. He said that even foreigners were found involved in sexual exploitation of children.