Inter Press Service (05.07.12) - Friday, May 11, 2012
It would take special effort to empower an "untouchable" Hindu
caste in Nepal that has long been associated with
entertainment and prostitution, social activists say. Four
years ago, the government banned Badis from engaging in sex
work, and it promised assistance.
A failure to implement the ban has led some local communities
to form monitoring groups backed by violent vigilantes. Many
Badi girls and women have been displaced by such a group in
the town of Muda. Nonetheless, Badis are not allowed legal
Riddha Bhandari, a leader of Muda's monitoring group, said it
formed in part to prevent HIV's spread. "We're trying to help
the Badi women start new dignified lives, but we do admit that
there are no viable alternatives," said Bhandari, advocating
"Most Badis are uneducated and have no farms or livestock,"
explained Uma Badi, an activist and one of the few college-
educated Badi women. Following Nepal's 1996-2006 civil war,
political instability has continued. "I have met three
different prime ministers in the past few years," Uma said.
"They promise support but forget us as soon as we head back to
"We didn't want to continue with prostitution but the
government has failed to fulfill its promises of
rehabilitation," said Bishal Nepali, husband of a sex worker.
The aid package was to have included housing and work
assistance and scholarships for Badi children.
"My family has survived on this trade for generations," said
Sabitri Nepali, 30, in Kailali district. "My mother was a sex
worker and I continued the family profession." "We defied the
ban and continued with our traditional occupation," said
Kalpana Badi. "How could we survive without incomes? Think
about our children."