Frequently Asked Questions


‘What has happened since the initial web protest of 1997?’

We received email from the Ministry of Tourism asking us to name guilty parties in tourism so the authorities could take action. We complied. For a while the offender with the most evidence against him and his accomplice did business as usual under different names.

However the offender is now in business under his original name, continuing as before while maintaining an ‘ultra-respectable’ front, and the Western travel agent who has the most to gain by ignoring his guilt has published a web site that looks plausible, with its claims about ‘safety’.

Meanwhile the Nepalese ministry informed us that a committee had been set up to investigate the matter. No-one has ever informed us, what, if anything, the committee has achieved, or if it even exists except in name.

Anyone with experience of the Nepalese authorities is well aware of the habit of making appropriate noises while doing as little as possible. Some of these appropriate noises have appeared as empty words on information sites about tourist safety in Nepal. Nothing has been substantiated by action. Plainly there is a lot more work to be done...

The positive side.
Various travel agents have expressed genuine concern and support for our aims. By resuming this campaign, we hope to enlarge our database of recommended companies.

Action against trafficking.
We sent email protesting about trafficking and received an reply from the Ministry of Tourism identical to the one above, asking us to name all the men implicated in trafficking so action could be taken! This fits in with the official habit of giving people the answers they want, no matter how misleading... So the campaign continues. We expect real action on this front once we have made our point about tourist safety.

We are not discouraged. Whoever thought this campaign would be easy? We are not being ignored...


The following points have been raised by people who enquired about the previous Nepal, Travel, Trekking and Trafficking web site: http://www.blue.fox.com/nepal
(If you follow a link, please use the back button on your browser to return to this page.)

'Aren't we damaging commercial interests?'

We are thoroughly supportive of healthy Nepalese tourism and the real damage is done by the tourism industry and authorities in hushing up this problem of tourist abuse, or merely making appropriate noises when pressed on the issue. Our action affects a well-to-do minority in Kathmandu. If people don't trek with one company, they'll trek with another that shows more concern for safety. The effect on poor Nepalese hoping to gain a living through their connections with tourism is the same.


'I questioned travel agents and they denied there was a problem...'

Some good agents genuinely don't know there is a problem. Some don't keep updated if it's not happening in their own company. Plenty more aren't telling the truth... How many people really put the well-being of women traveling with other companies before personal gain? My experience of Nepal dates back to 1978, so is equal or greater than that of travel agents who choose to deny the problem.


'I questioned people in Thamel and couldn't meet anyone who knew about the problem...'

Tourists in Kathmandu come and go in a matter of days. (They need to because of the pollution!) So why are people automatically going to meet someone who knows about the problem?
NB. I worked in Nepal for years and was in Kathmandu for too long...


‘Why doesn’t our embassy warn us?’

A British woman MP confided that such warnings could lead to a diplomatic incident. Embassies treat the warnings as a threat to the Nepalese authorities' source of income and follow each other’s lead when issuing warnings. Please see this page and also the sorry attitude of the American Embassy at the foot of the page of letters.


'Our reports of tourist safety differ from those to be found elsewhere on the Net.'

Ours was the first website to report on it, which has consequently sent much of the commercially motivated industry into denial...!


'We haven't presented an attractive picture of Nepal.'

There are plenty of other sites that do this. Why water down the message we need to put across? The dismal record of the authorities, described here, is well-documented.

Remember that no matter how beautiful Nepal is, nor how charming many of its people are, it has a horrific record of selling girls into sexual slavery. This appalls most Nepalese as well as foreigners and our action is designed in the long term to help these victims. If we didn't believe in the good nature of many Nepalese, then why should we publish the first letter on this page?

Or why should I have written this in the penultimate paragraph of 'Evilgold'?

'I must emphasize that the integrity and good nature of many Nepalese citizens is not in doubt. I would be desperately unhappy never to set foot abroad again and would miss the positive aspects of contact with other cultures. I really want to see the travel industry made safer. This is something that must be borne in mind along with other aspects of ethical tourism.'


'We make it sound as though the problems of tourist rape and sex trafficking are of equal magnitude.'
Also:
'Since there is only one rapist, why don't you name him?'

We’ve made every attempt to state that the truth lies between the two. Every woman matters, so every risk of rape not covered by adequate legal action needs to be addressed.


‘But Nepal is a safe country.’

I spent years there because I believed it to be a relatively safe country. Of course we are safe among its many well-meaning citizens, but where is the effective legislation or policing to safeguard us from undesirables? Nepal’s 'safe' reputation is hyped for the tourist trade. Even the sales of guide books would fall if truths currently hinted at were more plainly stated.


'There is more rape in the United States.'

This implies there is an 'acceptable' level of rape and sexual harassment in Nepal. The point is that the guilt of sex pests is unacceptably hushed up and they can continue as before. No matter how many or how few, as long as offenders are left to pose as respectable tour operators, women deserve to be warned.

It amounts to this. How can you put a value on a human being? What is more important? One person's human rights or another person's wealth? Rape causes near-suicidal trauma. As the original webmaster's signatures states:

‘The choice is and always has been between compassion and greed.’


Please also use this search box to check Usenet groups as well as the Web.

Google


Search Notes
Information does show up on the Net about untainted tourism where sexual offenses and related violence are not known to happen...! One travel agent who goes to the lengths of beating up victims identifies herself (and her connections) by protesting too loudly or roping in satisfied clients (usually male) who will plead her cause because they only know half the real picture - the half she wants them to know. Alternatively she puts great emphasis on ‘safety’ on a web site.

You’ll find plenty of information regarding the lack of human rights in Nepal and the dismal record of law enforcement authorities (the despair of many Nepalese) as well as the tourism blurb about how safe Nepal is. I will be very interested if you find a convincing account of how these extremes are reconciled.

You will also find that the Women’s Defense Pressure Group, which appears at face value to be a source of redress, may have some members effective in dealing with trafficking, but knows nothing whatsoever of the right of western women to be safe from sexual harassment and assault. Aren’t all vulnerable Western women voluntary ‘prostitutes’ in their eyes? Read this.

The bottom line is this:
Please ask yourself how a ‘very low level of sexual offenses’ can have been achieved by authorities with a proven record of habitually turning a blind eye to violations of women's human rights!

Thanks to the majority of people who email us and are very supportive!


And a final word... (I can’t resist this one!)
'This site is worded as though "all men are monsters".'

Please check the original webmaster's site, Witness to Violence. Note his gender and the innovative work he has done on issues of violence against women in the USA. How can this Nepal site have been created by 'man-haters'?


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For more information on the campaign to stop sexual harassment of tourists in Nepal please email comments, ideas and suggestions to:

Helen Brown freespirit_nospam_@gn.apc.org

Sorry I have to complicate this to prevent spam! Please take out the underscores as well.