Every year in Nepal, some thousands of girls are sent to work in brothels all over India. Most of them are only 13 years old, and the rest of them are barely 18.

Bimala, one of our main characters, lived in a village in the Terai, in southern Nepal. When her mother died she was sent to work in a carpet factory in Kathmandu. She was only 9 years old. When she was 13, her “uncle” took her to Bombay, where he sold her to a brothel in the district of Kamathipura. Bimala spent 8 years there, where she had to serve an average of 20 clients per day. When she refused to work they would torture her or simply beat her until she agreed to go back to work again. At the age of 23, she escaped and returned to her country. But her homecoming was not easy; her stepmother welcomed her by saying, “Go back to Bombay. I don’t have the money to take care of you.” Bimala thinks that her stepmother was actually the one who sold her. She feels fortunate because she has not had the same bad luck as other girls who have ended up with AIDS or other illnesses. Now she is trying to put her life back together. This is the story of Bimala and a group of girls who, year after year, are tricked, kidnapped, and taken to different cities around India to supply the sex market.

This documentary aims at letting the voices of these girls be heard; girls who have had their childhoods robbed from them and have been treated like slaves from centuries past.

We go into the brothels and meet the girls and women who work in this macro sex industry.

Bimala and other survivors asked that the production team help her set up a small spice workshop, and with the help of HimRights, the organization that was helping those survivors rehabilitate, The Masala Project saw the light three months later.

Based on an article by Chelo Alvarez-Stehle for Planeta Humano magazine.

Directed by Miguel Bardem

Interviewer, Assistant Director & Consultant:  Chelo Alvarez-Stehle

Produced by Produce+/Canal+, New Atlantis

(2003, 56 min./72 min.)


A documentary film on sex trafficking from Nepal to India

© 2009 Chelo Alvarez-Stehle. Permissions.                           

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TIN GIRLS survivors