Untold Stories from Nepal | Tika

[Content trigger warnings: Child marriage and abuse]

“I had to do everything I was told, I lived in constant fear.”

Tika’s* story is a tale of two halves–one of unthinkable heartbreak, abuse and loss–and another filled with love and hope.

Before the tender age of 10 she had been exposed to domestic violence, child labour, homelessness, sexual abuse and human trafficking. She was forced to endure unspeakable hardship and her story makes for uncomfortable reading, but we urge you to hear her voice.

It all started when her father began drinking. There was a time before this when Tika was happy, when her parents laughed and her four sisters had a carefree childhood. But with the alcohol came violence, debt and deprivation.

Her parents would get so drunk the girls were forced to fend for themselves, and in the evenings they would cower in the shadows as the arguments grew more and more physical, or their father would pick which daughter to abuse.

When Tika was seven-years-old he walked out, leaving behind a large debt and a family struggling to survive. Her mother sold everything they owned to try and feed her girls, and sent Tika to live with an uncle in the hope he could offer her a better life, but he just made her work long hours looking after the animals and doing housework. 

In desperation her mum turned to prostitution in a bid to survive. And it wasn’t just her own body she exploited for profit–shockingly she took Tika’s older sister to the hotels and forced her too into a life of sex work.

It was a year before Tika returned to live with her mum and sisters in a bus shelter of a busy town. By the age of nine she had been forced even further into child labour, sieving sand from the river and carrying it to building sites, where she was paid just 5 cents a bucket. On other days she begged for money or stole food offerings from temples–anything to get food for her two younger sisters, aged just six and four. 

Tika will never forget the day her mother drove up to the bus shelter and snatched away her two younger sisters–girls she had cared for like they were her own. The youngster was grief-stricken and altogether brokenhearted. 

She later discovered her six-year-old sister was sold to a hotel to pay the $160 drinking debt her father had accrued. Here she was forced to wash dishes, clean the rooms, work in the kitchen and was sexually abused by the guests. Her four-year-old sister was sold for $270–money her father used to pay for his continuing alcohol addiction. She has not been seen since.

Utterly alone and completely afraid, Tika walked the streets in a daze. She found herself at the hotel where her older sister was working as a prostitute, and was about to be sold into a life of slavery when she was rescued by 3 Angels Nepal.

Tika was just 10 years old when she arrived at the women’s safe haven. Her trauma was so extreme she barely spoke or ate. It took years before the depression and suicidal thoughts lifted and Tika was able to go to school, where she took pride in the fact she never dropped below second in her class for any subject.

The past still haunts her, but she is using her experiences to shape the future for other trafficked women. The 22-year-old is now working as an assistant manager, studying at law school, and supporting two of her sisters and two nieces. On completion of her studies she hopes to give legal advice to other women.

“I can help women like me have a dignified, safe life, free from trafficking,” she said. 

You can help give freedom to women and children in Nepal today. 100% of your gift will go directly to the field to help end human trafficking.

*Name changed and representational image used to protect Tika’s identity