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The Manaslu Circuit Trek is the best all round tea-house hike in Nepal on the Great Himalaya Trail; the new Annapurna Circuit. No camping needed.

Children in Nepal orphanages ‘at risk of abuse’

Countless children have benefited from tourism in Nepal. Over the past 40 or so years of trekking in Nepal, many children have been sponsors, schools have been build, and the lives on communities have been improved. There is another side to this also, and that is orphanages, which often are no more than zoos where the owner makes money out of children.

Agents recruit children from rural Nepal for a fee, promising their parents a good education in a private school in the city. Once in the shelter, the children are passed off as orphans in the hope of attracting donations for their care, mainly from well-meaning foreigners, according to activists. 

Paavan is a journalist in Nepal and just made a report for AFP. Read this before coming to Nepal – if anyone offers for you to help their orphanage, be wary!

Kathmandu (AFP) – British teacher Sarah Robinson knew something was wrong even before leaving the orphanage in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu in 2012 with her precious new daughter.

The blind, brown-haired girl, who had spent her whole short life at the institution, was terrified of water, wet her bed even at age five, and most alarmingly there were spots of blood in her underwear.

Subsequent medical checks showed Robinson’s adopted daughter had been raped, possibly by someone at the orphanage, sparking a legal battle to bring her attacker to justice.

“He tied me up and threw me in dirty water, in the drain, in cold places,” the girl, who cannot be named, told AFP, before clamming up about the man she used to call “uncle”.

Private orphanages have mushroomed across Nepal in the absence of a state-run welfare system, their growth fuelled by corruption and the prospect of attracting donations from foreigners, activists say.

Robinson, whose name has been changed, and others fear some of these unregulated orphanages are neglecting and possibly abusing children in their care.

“Kids who live in orphanages, are just not important in this society … the way they are treated,” she said in Kathmandu.

After Robinson discovered her daughter’s abuse, she tried, unsuccessfully, to get police to investigate, before filing a legal petition to have a statute of limitations overturned to start an inquiry.

Robinson, who lives in Nepal, is awaiting a court ruling on her 2013 petition. But a separate police investigation has been conducted into rape allegations of three other girls, all autistic, from the same orphanage called Bal Mandir.

A former employee, whom Robinson suspects of abusing her daughter, has been charged with attacking those girls who had approached a child rights organisation for help.

The ex-employee and another man are currently in jail awaiting trial.

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