Escape from Mumbai
tells how he was
by Sunil B. Pant (in Kathmandu) and Andy Harley
KATHMANDU, April 6 – Divya sat there and calmly related a quite devastating story of deception, torture and a seven-year life of hell in a male brothel in India.
He, and we will call him ‘he’ although he is a “meta” or feminine male, spoke about his escape from the Mumbai brothel and his return to his native Pokhara in the foothills of the Himalayas. There he was reunited with his loving mother, but found that most people in the city harassed him whey they found out about his life over the past seven years.
There was little compassion, except in his mother’s house. So he left for Kathmandu and the Blue Diamond Society which he had learned about in Mumbai, triggering off his plan to escape back to Nepal.
Divya began working at a very early age to help support his mother, father and two brothers. He was barely a teenager when he started work at the Deurali guesthouse and restaurant.
It was here that he met Manoj Thapa Magar who said he was from Butwal. Divya was made an offer that, as a teen, he could hardly refuse.
He was asked if he wanted to earn more money. And what teen, being the principle bread-winner for his family, would have replied anything but yes.
Divya was told that there was more money to be earned working in restaurants in India and that Manjo had a few friends in Mumbai who would have a job for the youngster. After all, Manjo had lived for a few years in Mumbai before he started working in Pokhara
The youngster immediately agreed, thinking that he would be able to earn more money to help his family.
Together, the two travelled to Mumbai. On arrival, Divya was taken to the Rani Haveli brothel in Mumbai’s seedy Kamatipura red light district. The young Nepali was told he could live and there while he earned a lot of money.
Manjo went out of the room saying that he would be back in a while. Divya waited and waited. It was in vain.
That night, Maharani (brothel owner) came to the youngster and told him that Manoj had left, but he could work there. Divya had no idea what was in store.
Divya was forcefully taught to wear different dresses, including saris, and jewellery. He had ‘vigorous’ training in how to walk and talk like a girl. If he made a mistake he was severely beaten.
Then they taught him how to beg for money, which is a common trait in India for the hijara (castrated males). He was tortured everyday by the owner who brought up to 25 clients a day and was forced to have unprotected sex.
According to Divya, there were between 50 and 60 Nepali metas in Rani Haveli. And Nepali metas are in great demand. The brothel also had Indian metas, known as kothis. All were forced into trafficking.
After a while Divya was sent with a few other hijaras wearing saris to beg in different buildings and even on the train. He said it was really humiliating since he would rather do a hard days’ work than beg.
Divya said that on the days that he couldn’t bring much money, the maharani didn’t give him any food, so he had to go to bed hungry. If he even made one small mistake he was beaten severely, he has scars, burn marks, and stitches to prove these atrocities.
After working there for two years, the brothel owners tried to forcefully castrate him as most of the males brought there are eventually castrated.
But when Divya forcefully refused, they circumcised him since the brothel owner, Maharani – a Muslim, said it was a Muslim brothel and that Divya had to become Muslim.
The clients who seemed to be from high class to the middle class, but were never good to Divya and other metis – they always made sure that they brutalized metis.
According to Divya, they had a monthly health checkup and if anyone were found to be HIV positive they were kicked out of the brothel with no money.
After Divya had been enslaved in the brothel for two years, his father and his brother found out about his whereabouts from Divyas one client who also happened to be from his home town in Nepal.
That was the only time he found out that he had been sold. Then the owner of the brothel asked the father for IRs. 80,000 (about US$ 2000) if they were to take him back to Nepal. His father and brother were threatened and they had no other choice but to leave.
Maharani also told his father and his brother that their son had already been castrated and if they took him back he’ll bring shame to the whole family.
Finally one day after seven years of daily torment, humiliation and torture, Divya heard about Blue Diamond Society in Kathmandu through TV and newspapers. He had never thought about escaping because he feared that nobody in Nepal woul support him
But when he saw that there was indeed an organization in Nepal for people like him, his courage grew and he knew that support would be there.
One day, on a usual routine of begging, he escaped with the help of two Indian hijaras .He collected some money from begging and got on the train and returned to Nepal.
Divya’s first destination was his home. But when he got there he found that his father had died. He was unable to keep the promise made to his father that one day he would return for a visit.
After a few days in Pohkara staying with his mother, he left for Kathmandu and the sanctity of the Blue Diamond Society as it was getting increasingly difficult for him to stay longer with his family as local ‘society’ already talking about him and his other relatives also disowned him.
Now BDS is working at his rehabilitation and making sure that everyone knows that it’s not just the girls who are sold but the males and boys too.
“We are trying to make sure that the culprit is caught and punished,” Blue Diamond Society said after Divya had recounted the horror of his last seven years.
“There are still a lot of others in India who are still suffering from everyday torture and we hope to bring justice to all of them and pray that we can do that soon. We also will try to catch the network of these pimps here in Nepal and the brothels owner in India, who are selling not only women but also males in large scale. We will be working with organization working cross boarder to reduce the Human Trafficking.
“We are very concerned and denounce all kind of human trafficking We call on governments and all other parties to work together to stop human trafficking whether its girls, women, boys or men.”
Blue Diamond Society website
6 April 2005