As an increasing number of Nepali girls have been marrying Chinese men and leaving for the neighboring country of late, officials here face challenges in rescuing such girls when they find themselves in trouble and subjected to severe exploitation.
One of the major challenges in rescuing the girls is the language barrier and their scant knowledge about the community and place they end up in.
For 21-year-old Sanu Maya (name changed) of Kavrepalanchok District, her China dream turned into horror when she realised that she had fallen victim to traffickers in both countries after reaching China in February.
After being subjected to intolerable torture, physical pain and inhumane treatment for more than three months, she decided to escape from that ‘hell’ and return to Nepal. Upon the suggestion of one of her Nepali friends in China, she managed to send photos of her bruises and injuries and other particulars to the Nepali embassy in Beijing via WeChat.
In detailed testimony, the sobbing young woman informed embassy officials that she was held captivate, physically and sexually abused and tortured by her husband, father-in-law and other members of that family. She had no chance of resisting because of the language barrier. But her cell phone and WeChat became a bridge to safety.
Responding to her complaints via WeChat at the end of June, the embassy took the initiative and sent a diplomatic note to the Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Shandong’s Province, according to Uttam Ghimire, an embassy staffer in Beijing.
After local police located the victim in Yun Cheng County and confirmed that the woman was in dire straits, the embassy deployed a team under Ghimire to rescue her.
Amidst tight security, the team took hours to reach her home located in a remote village.
“When we reached the house, family members of the Chinese husband and other locals were ready to face us with the documents issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nepal and the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu as well as the marriage certificate issued by Bhaktapur.District Administration Office.
During an hours long debate, the family consulted different lawyers and finally consented to hand over the girl to the authorities on condition they were paid back the money they had spent on her. The family also attempted to garner sympathy from local government authorities but were unsuccessful.
“We paid US dollars 5,000 to local agents and 40,000 RMB to the girl during and after the marriage in Nepal,” the Chinese husband told the authorities. It was later confirmed that the amount handed to the girl was later taken by Nepali agents in Kathmandu. The authorities assured the Chinese family the money would be returned to get her passport back from them once the agents were arrested.
After Sanu Maya was rescued she told embassy staff that there were many others girls in similar predicament waiting to be rescued.
Nepal’s ambassador to China, Mahesh Maskey, said, “We are ready to intervene in the growing challenge related to fake marriages of Nepali girls but we lack detailed records.”
The embassy sought marriage details from the authorities in Nepal but the latter have been failing to respond despite repeated follow-up. The embassy in Beijing said that the authorities and security officials in China were ready to curb such incidents if credible information and documents were made available.
The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Singha Durbar informed that the government was working on a solution. “A standing committee has been working to find an effective solution,” said Joint Secretary Ram Prasad Bhandari.
According to law enforcement agencies in Nepal, the authorities issuing marriage certificates and the ministries concerned were unaware about the addresses, contact numbers and proper identity of Chinese married to Nepali girls.
“A recently married Nepali girl from China has been seeking our help but we are not in any position to do anything for lack of identity details,” said DIG Hemanta Malla of the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police. Police had busted an illegal marriage racket in March 2015.