Religious trade in Nepalese ‘orphan’ girls

A Nepali mother, reunited at last with her trafficked daughter, photo: RUBEENA MAHATO

Translated from Dutch (Protestant Christian) daily Trouw:

Trafficked ‘orphans’ trained to become missionaries

Lucia de Vries – 07/17/13, 03:30

Dozens of children from Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, India and Burma are trafficked because of religious motives. They are from Buddhist and Hindu families and are educated in orphanages to become Christian missionaries.

Mediation fee

Trouw investigated the bizarre story of the Nepalese ‘Humla girls’, from the remote Humla district in the Himalayas. A decade ago, their parents made a difficult choice: leave the kids at home where they might be recruited, possibly by Maoist rebels, or hand them to a people smuggler, to an unknown destination. They chose the latter. The smuggler was a famous Nepalese politician, who had managed to get the confidence of the parents. He arranged that families were deprived of their parental authority and brought the children to India in exchange for a mediation fee and a ‘school fee’. The parents usually thought that the children would get a [not religiously sectarian] education in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

The 32 Humla girls spent their childhood in the Michael Job Centre in Tamil Nadu, founded by ‘Dr. P. P. Job ‘. This recently deceased Indian evangelist, who was known as the Billy Graham of Asia, gave the girls new names and identities.

For ‘the daughters of Christian martyrs’ – in reality, their Buddhist parents were still alive – the orphanage looked for sponsors. They include the Dutch Foundation for Helping Persecuted Christians (HVC), an orthodox Protestant organization, which funds the project.

Helping girls

Two years ago the Humla girls, in a rescue operation, supported by the Indian and Nepalese authorities, were taken from the children’s home and returned to their homeland. Part of the group were reunited with their parents. The Dutch foundation still supports the girls financially in their work as evangelists, including trying to convert their parents. For the girls, it is not always easy to be back. They hardly speak Nepali or Humli, making communication, even with parents, sometimes tricky.

Jan Bor, Director of the Foundation Help for Persecuted Christians has recently wondered ‘eighty times’ what he did wrong, after the harsh criticism of the way in which the ‘orphan’ girls ended up in an Indian orphanage. …

Ethical standards deficient

Bor still thinks that the return of the girls to their parents was wrong. About the Nepalese politician cum people smuggler he is less negative: “I know he is known as a smuggler but he has very good connections at government level. According to the girls he’s good for them. I still value him …”

The smuggling out of religious motives is controversial in Nepal. Some parents and social workers believe that good education is more important than respecting freedom of religion or identity. They would have preferred that the girls had remained in India. A leader of the Nepalese Council of Churches disagreed. He calls on Christian donors like HVC to be less gullible and to improve their ethical standards.

From Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform in Nepal:

Duelling videos on Humla trafficker Dal Bahadur Phadera

The name of this human smuggling Nepalese politician indicates he is from the feudal elite.

First, from the Esther Benjamins Trust:

23 Nepali girls rescued from ‘mission’

Our September rescue operation which freed 23 Nepali girls has been vindicated by the Child Welfare Council (CWC) in India.

The CWC has ordered the closure of the centre from which the children were freed.

The girls were in The Michael Job Centre in Tamil Nadu. The centre is well known to authorities in Nepal and India. It claimed to offer sanctuary to children of Christian martyrs; many of the children we rescued had in fact been taken there by known trafficking agent D B Phadera after their parents had paid what appears to amount to a placement fee.

We are planning the future care of these children, to work out who can safely be reunited with their family and who might need genuine residential refuge and support as they rebuild their lives.

See also here on human smuggler Dal Bahadur Phadera and the Humla girls.

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