Nepal filmmakers turn their lens on trafficking

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Thursday, November 25, 2010

KATHMANDU - Even as Nepal’s best-known crusader against trafficking of women and children won recognition as a global hero, filmmakers in the Himalayan republic, one of the worst victims of sex slavery, are seeking to bolster the campaign by turning their lens on trafficking.

Four days after Anuradha Koirala was declared CNN’s hero of the year 2010 for the role played by her NGO in Kathmandu, Maiti Nepal, in rescuing thousands of women and teenaged girls from the brothels of India, 25-year-old Nepali director Ghanshyam Timilsinha Thursday began shooting his new film, “Uni Bechiyepachhi” (After she was sold).

“I come from Sindhupalchowk district (in northern Nepal), one of the worst preying grounds of traffickers,” says Timilsinha. “I believe filmmakers have a responsibility towards society and for one year now, I have been trying to make a film that will make people aware of the menace and contribute to its eradication.”

To be shot in Nagarkot, Kathmandu and the towns on the Indo-Nepal border, Timilsinha’s film is based on the true story of an 18-year-old from Nuwakot, another district targeted by traffickers.

“When she was studying in Class IX, the teenaged, who comes from the underprivileged Tamang community, was tricked into slavery in a brothel in India’s Mumbai,” Timilsinha told IANS.

“The middle man promised her father she would get a good job in India and bought her for NRS 50,000.”

“The teen’s plight became known last year after she was rescued from the brothel following a raid coordinated by Maiti Nepal,” he added.

But the victim’s woes did not end with being rescued. She was stigmatised in her own village and tried to take her own life twice. Finally, she was forced to leave home and return to Kath-mandu.

“Being a film that seeks to inspire as well as educate, `Uni Bechiyepachhi’ ends on a positive note,” says Timilsinha, who is regarded as having the blessings of the opposition Maoist party.

“My protagonist, Chinimaya, is backed by a trio who go to her village from Kathmandu to help her rehabilitation. At first they come under attack by the villagers but gradually they prevail in having the village declared a trafficking-free model village.”

Timilsinha says the Film Development Board has assured state help to screen the film in remote villages by waiving taxes.

“People in the remote villages, especially the Tamang community, lack education and employment opportunities and become easy prey to exploitation,” Timilsinha says. “I want the film to reach these areas to create mass awareness.”

Probably the first Nepali feature film on trafficking, “Cheli” (Girl), was made almost 20 years ago by veteran director Ranadhwoj Rana, who passed away this month.

Since then, there have been several tele-serials and documentaries.

Last year, Dayaram Dahal, a prominent commercial film director, made “Kaha Chhau Kaha” (Where are you?), based on trafficking victims’ tales.

“It was mainly based on two women, one of whom was sold in an Indian brothel and the other forced into prostitution in a Gulf country where she was lured with the offer of a job as a domestic help,” says Dahal.

“My film focused on the suffering of the victims but now, I want to make another film to focus on the root causes of trafficking: illiteracy, poverty and unemployment.”

The rescue of trafficked victims is not the solution, Dahal says.

“You will not realise it in Kathmandu but if you go 10 km further and enter a village, you will see how difficult it is for villagers to survive,” says the 39-year-old director. “If they had education, employment and were not so abjectly poor, they would not succumb to false job promises.”

The other reason for trafficking, he says, is discrimination and violence against women.

“We have discrimination even during childhood,” he says. “Girls are not sent to schools and women are exploited and tortured. These social factors combine to make trafficking a home-grown problem. What we need is not films on victims’ suffering but films that suggest a solution.”

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at

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