This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by ED Times. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Thriving Skin Trade In India Is Forcing Poor Nepalese Women to be Skinned Alive

By Sneha Barua:

These women have been subjected to inhuman exploits in the skin trade industry

India is truly a land of wonders, and it always amazes me how some sections of society, in order to exploit the poor, can stoop to levels as low as skinning destitute women alive to feed the growing illegal business of skin trade in India.

Grossed out? Even I am.

I never imagined that something as gory as this could ever take place until I stumbled upon a report published by Thomas Reuters Foundation which stated that:

Poor Nepalese women are being trafficked and duped into selling their skin to be used in various plastic surgeries including breast and penis enlargement surgeries in the growing aesthetics industry.

India is quite popular for impoverished Nepalese men and women (especially young women and children), who illegally enter India with the help of agents who promise them decent jobs and growth opportunities.

But, all that is promised is not always true.

These poor men (and women) are instead forced to illegally sell their organs and women are trafficked into various brothels across India.

What has recently come out is that it was never only prostitution. It is way more than that.

After some research, I find out some horrifying details about the existing skin trade in India and Nepal, which is sure to make you shiver.

How Did The Skin Trade In India Come To Light?

It all started with an investigation carried out by an Indian journalist Soma Basu, as part of Youth Ki Awaaz, who helped dig out this horrible attack on humanity that poor Nepalese women are facing.

Brothels are the “skin” farms of India

She went to Nepal, and while investigating the skin trade in India and Nepal, found horrifying things.

When a poor Nepalese woman fled from a brothel in Mumbai back to her native village in Nepal, nothing mattered to her more than the fact that she was now free from all the atrocities she had been facing.

Not even the huge scar on her back, up until the point she met another woman there who had the same scar on her back. Curiosity getting the best of her, she asked the woman about how she got the scar.

That was the moment when she realized she was a part of a big scam.

Her scar was not the result of some client’s sexual fetishes, but the proof of her skin being ‘stolen’ to make rich men and women beautiful!

Does exploitation due to inequality and poverty have no end?

After further investigation, the whole racket came into view.

How Does The Skin Trade In India And Nepal Work?

This woman has moved to India to find her teenage daughter who was trafficked by one of the “agents” to Mumbai.

Young girls from poor Nepalese villages are lured by ‘skin traders’ in large numbers, in hopes of a better life. They are then illegally trafficked across the Indo-Nepal border (not through the check posts, mind you), and moved to various brothels in Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

There these young women are given a specific price depending on their skin colour, age, and virginity. A 100-square inch of fair skin can sell for up to ₹1 lakh in Mumbai!

Other women voluntarily sell a part of their skin for as low as ₹10,000, so that they have something to eat. But then, this money is also exhausted in a few days.

Penury really forces people to take extreme measures in order to make ends meet, and we still crib because we can’t buy the latest iPhone launched in the market!

The Process of Skinning Women Alive

The most astounding fact about this skin trade in India is that skin tissues are often extracted from these poor women’s bodies without them being aware of it!

Women in the brothels are sedated with the excuse that the client wants to try out adventurous sexual fetishes with them, and the skin tissue is torn apart from their backs and limbs while they are unconscious and tied to the beds.

Not to mention that they are now scarred for life (literally).

And all this happens after these women sign documents as proof that they are willingly donating their skin.

What Happens To Them After Being Skinned Alive?

The women, after skin grafting is done on them, often misunderstand these scars to be the result of their client’s sexual acts. What they do not know is that they have just been stripped off their basic human rights.

After visible disfigurement, their value decreases in the flesh market, and they have to entertain clients for as low as ₹300-500 per sitting, while their more ‘beautiful’ colleagues earn as much as ₹5000 per sitting.

And if they dare ask their clients to use condoms, this meagre amount is also denied to them.

Is there any limit to the kind of exploitation that these women face in our so-called ‘sanskaari’ society?

What about Atithi Devo Bhava?

Does this saying hold meaning only for the rich tourists who grace our land? If that is the case, I’m sorry to say, it has never been shallower than this.

Although the Nepalese government has promised to look strictly into the matter, the solution is far away at this moment.

And as the days pass by, inhuman tortures on these poor women in Nepal as well as in India still continue, just to allow rich people to have the luxury of flaunting fake breasts and penises and what not!

A version of this post was first published here.

You must be to comment.
  1. JINSHAD ALI K P

    Yes miss Berua, its really disturbing to see such bitter truths slapping our faces, who lives in the light of the popular pseudo media gimmicks and political upperhands. Now I would really appreciate the YKA platform for noising such concerns. We the youth of India are responsible to culminate such practices, We will and We must.

More from ED Times

Similar Posts

By Anugraha Venugopal

By Prasun Goswami

By Prerana

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below