By Sneha Barua:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.