“I want to help other girls’’

Friday - - Society -

Poonam Thapa was work­ing in a restau­rant when a cus­tomer sug­gested she should travel with her to Mum­bai for bet­ter work. From a very poor fam­ily and with an al­co­holic fa­ther, Poonam, 18, ac­cepted. She be­lieved she would be work­ing in a hand­i­craft shop but soon re­alised she had been sold by the woman into a brothel. Upon re­fus­ing to work with ‘clients’ she was tor­tured phys­i­cally and men­tally. She was forced to en­ter­tain up to 25 clients a day, un­til she was res­cued two years later when po­lice raided the es­tab­lish­ment.

Poonam has been liv­ing un­der the care of Maiti Nepal for two years and is do­ing well in her stud­ies. Her traf­ficker has been sen­tenced to 20 years in jail. In 2010 Poonam was se­lected to join the jury for the World’s Chil­dren Prize in Swe­den, a pro­gramme that con­trib­utes to­wards a more hu­mane world in sup­port of chil­dren’s rights. She was in­stru­men­tal in choos­ing their an­nual lau­re­ates, who in­spire chil­dren all over the world to de­mand change. When asked what she would like to do with her fu­ture she is very clear, “I want to help other girls so they never have to go through the pain I did.”

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