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Special feature story:

Kailali, Nepal, November 1, 2008- Samjhana who is now 6-month-old pregnant earns Rs100 to 200 a day giving sexual service to the customers. "This amount is not enough, we don't get sufficient foods so we are compelled to sleep with empty stomach," says Samjhana.

It might be hard to believe that some women in Nepal are forced to sell themselves for a night to earn their living. They are the women of Badi community who have been carrying sexual profession for many generations. This community is recognized as the community, doing sexual business.


Samjhana Badi in Muda, Kailali. Photos: Sangmo

27 years old Samjhana Badi of Muda, Kailali, who has been doing sexual profession for many years shares," it's too difficult to maintain a large family. I have to do this profession so as to take care of, 65 years old father, 50 years old mother, sisters- brothers and children in the family."

She says that she stopped doing such act after getting married but started again when her husband left him one year ago.

Samjhana feels very disappointed when women from other community hate Badi women commenting on their profession.

"I hope the new government will do something for us." Samjana hopes.
 
Badi women and children in Muda, Kailali. Photos: Sangmo

It is not that these peoples haven't attempted to change their business but due to other peoples' misbehavior and negative perspective on Badi in the society, they are compelled to continue their centaury long profession.

"Other people despise us saying untouchable /small caste if we choose any other business like keeping accessory shop, tea shop, fishing, selling woods and other." shares Rita Badi of Muda adding, "actually no one come to buy the goods."


Rita Badi. Photos: Sangmo

Badi are unable to provide education to their children due to poverty. They lack land and house for proper settlement.

They have a common complaint that though Maoist party assured them to provide employment, education to children and replacement at the time of election, it has not been implemented yet.

"We had hoped that our problems of unemployment, children education, and replacement would be solved. We'll get respect in the society, settle in the good place but this government is not supporting us." Rita says.


Uma Devi Badi. Photos: Sangmo

Uma Devi Badi who has been playing active role in Badi movement however claims that Sexual business is not Badi's profession.

"Actually, our main profession was to beg, in the past, our generation used to beg into village to village. The Badi women used to dance and sing in the Palace and landlord's house." She explains adding, "At the time of dancing and singing we were sexually abused by those people, they used to give sexual harassment. There was no point in revolting against it as it was hard to survive us without doing so."

Badi women have the awareness about the HIV/AIDS so they use contraceptive method to prevent from pregnancy and other kind of sexual diseases, says Uma Devi.

The settlement of Badi Community is in 72 district of Nepal including Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bake, Bardiya, Dailekh, Bajhang, Salyan, Rukum, Rolpa.

After the success of month-long Badi movement, last year, Badi are getting citizenship in the name of mother and the free education to the children that can be taken as movement's achievement. They are taking citizenship not only with the surname Badi rather as Choma, Chaudhari, Shah and other. Earlier they used to write Bhad, Badeni, Patar as a surname, which define their profession while making citizenship.

Last year, Badi were forced to take out a half-naked protest to press the government meet their demand which include change in profession, employment, right to get citizenship in the name of mother, free education and others. On Aswin 28, 2064 B.S, the talk between Badi and government reached into conclusion.

"We need not have to do sexual business, if the government provides job opportunity to us." States Karuna Badi, 35 of Muda. "But I don't have any hope in the government."

Male members of Badi community don't mind even their sister, wife, daughter sell their body for to earn a living.

Bude Badi says, "We have to depend on female member of the family to sustain life, the government is not providing job opportunity to us. But I have hope that the new government can address our problems."

There are 35 houses of Badi in Muda. Badi children are far away from the education. Only few Badi children have got an opportunity to go to school. Weak economic condition is one of the reasons for this. Unfortunately, these children too have to face difficult time in the school, studying together with the student of so-called 'high caste' group.


Badi Children in Muda, Kailali, Nepal. Photos: Sangmo

"Everybody look down on us in the school” say Badi children, “As we are low caste group, we keep quite and return home." Says 5 grader Rozi Badi, 12 of Muda."

Rozi knows well that her sisters and mother do sexual business but she herself doesn't like to carry on such business in the future as she understand that this really doesn't provide satisfaction and happiness to them.

"I have a desire to become a doctor. How can I study if I involved in this business?" Rozi questions.

Like Rozi, there are many Badi children who are compelled to bear society's rude behaviors. But they go school despite of the feeling of humiliation.

Badi has a population of about 32 to 35 thousands in Nepal. The situation of Badi is extremely miserable. They are living their life facing social discrimination and poverty. Though there is some change in the peoples' perspective towards Badi, due to awareness program conducted by different organizations, many things have to be done by the government to allow them live with respectful life. Children education and change in profession of Badi are the major things that the government should give attention for. More importantly, the government should implement the agreement made with Badi people a year ago.

-Sangmo Yonjan-Tamang in Kathmandu
   
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