Pictures courtesy of Touching Asia
Once upon a time, my father was shown a village in Nepal, deep in the mountains. It was called Garbage Village, home to the Badi people. It was February. The ground was hard and frost ringed the grasses. The houses were made of bamboo and grass, and the people were dressed in rags, dirty, ravaged by the disease of an unfulfilled life.
The Badi people are dalits, the untouchables of society, outcast even among the outcasts. They cannot share the same village pump, food, water, or housing with the higher classes. They cannot touch them. They are born into extreme poverty with no chance of education, healthcare, or social status.
Hundreds of years ago, Badi women were entertainers, dancers, musicians, courtesans, but over time this practice was corrupted, deformed into prostitution, with parents selling their own daughters as young as eight into slavery. Prostitution has become the family trade, and it is so entrenched in their identity as a people group that it is an accepted fact of life.
Parents are often the ones who bring home the first customers to their daughters. Some girls are lured away to the larger cities with the promise of work, kidnapped and brought to brothels in India. Some are married off under false pretences, ending up as sex slaves or as wifes in their husband's harem in Dubai.
Only in 2005 did the Supreme Court finally order the Nepalese government to extend citizenship and education to the Badi people, but bureaucrats dragged their feet on the matter, and little change has been achieved.
She will grow up in darkness if nothing is done.