Many rich Westerners are targeting Nepal to exploit and sexually abuse children owing to weak government oversight.
Poverty often makes a country vulnerable to the world’s ills. And pedophilia is manifesting in Nepal’s post-2015 earthquake, targeting poverty-stricken families. The number of alleged pedophiles arrested in Nepal in a year has skyrocketed. Altogether 10 foreign nationals have been arrested from 2016 to 2018. The startling revelation here is that all of them are privileged white men. The question arises: why are pedophiles targeting underage Nepalese boys?
Nepal is a tourist-friendly nation and citizens of most developed countries need not worry about entering the Himalayan nation due to its relaxed visa system. The culture per se views foreigners, particularly the western, white-skinned, as the ‘good people’ and ‘god-like.’
This worldview of most Nepalese has put them in a continuous schism with outsiders. The victims are mostly the children of poor parents who are easily lured by pedophiles. They are offered clothes, toys and gifts and get abused in the process. But is it the fault of the locals? A country so dependent on tourism easily falls prey to others, but there are other factors contributing to it.
Nepal’s weak law enforcement is another shortcoming that pedophiles exploit. The immigration department at the country’s only international airport does not possess any biometric technology to catch individuals with a history of sexual assaults against children.
One such case was revealed recently when the French duo Christophe Guilloux and Denis Mathiue Michel Chupau were arrested on July 24, from Manhara, Kathmandu. The latter individual was arrested in 2004 for sexual assault on minors and possessing images of child abuse in France and served a jail term.
The immigration department, hence, came under scrutiny after this revelation. The lack of biometric technology and a robust database to check foreigners with criminal records has contributed to this.
Since most foreigners do not have to produce police clearance while entering the country, it’s easier for individuals with a history of crimes against children to bypass the immigration gate easily.
It is only when the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) and the Nepali police are tipped off by their own agents or activist groups that the arrests happen. This also shows that the enforcement agencies in Nepal are one step behind the perpetrators.
Although the Nepali government announced that it would start monitoring foreigners who enter the country, its effect is yet to be seen.
The other reason for Nepal becoming a fertile soil to the pedophiles is a weak law against pedophilia. Nepal’s new updated criminal code also doesn’t have the word ‘pedophilia’ but treats the cases as "sex exploitation against children."
If convicted, a pedophile faces a jail term of 11 years and must pay a compensation fee to the victims. Nepal abolished capital punishment in 1990, and experts argue that it's one of the reasons why criminals target Nepal, knowing there will be a lesser prison term.
This was evident in the recent deportation of 75-year-old Canadian pedophile Fenwick MacIntosh from Nakhu prison, Lalitpur. He was serving a seven-year jail term since March 2015 after his arrest in December 2014 for sexually molesting a 15-year-boy. The police let him leave the country, citing his age and deteriorating health.
An official from the Immigration Department confirmed the event and said that MacIntosh will likely not face any legal action against him. Also, there are other individuals who are behind bars awaiting final judgment.
Among them are: German national Albert Fred Klinicke arrested on June 29, 2017, in Thamel; US national Kenneth Joseph Coombs, arrested on September 9, 2016, in Thamel; Austrian Kendler Markus arrested on September 6, 2017, in Thamel; Canadian Peter Dalglish arrested on April 8, in Nagarkot; German Hans Jurgen Gustav Dahm aka Yogen arrested on Jan 13, 2018; Dutch Piet Hein Van Terwisga arrested on June 14, in Thamel; Dutch Henrykus Adrinas Josepus Creujesan arrested on November 10, 2017, in Koteshwor; and Swiss Peter Christian Langendorf arrested on July 20.
All these individuals came to Nepal on tourist visas using the veil of humanitarian work and volunteerism.
Volunteering is another factor that pedophiles have used to target their prey since Nepal is dependent on foreign donors and it’s easier for individuals to hoodwink others.
It is not just foreigners, even Nepalis have been found working for them. Buddha Putawar aka Lucche was found supplying underage boys to US citizen Kenneth Joseph Coombs in 2016.
Coombs and Putawar were arrested in September of the same year for pedophilia and human trafficking. Putawar also accepted that he supplied boys to Coombs whereas the latter denied it. The police later revealed that Coombs had a history of sexual misconduct and was convicted in the past.
This only suggests that Nepal’s enforcement agencies are still not efficient in arresting individuals with a dark past.
Lack of sex offender records also makes it easier for pedophiles to target Nepali underage boys.
It is high time that the Nepali government launch a sex offender registry and create a mechanism that would flag individuals with criminal backgrounds.
Also, a 2017 report on Dark Net by Threatnix.io revealed that “pornographic forums in the dark web were also promoting Nepal as a haven for pedophilia.” The report also mentions orphanages as a quick way for child exploitation.
It further reveals pornographic materials and contents from Nepal were found in the forums and a user from Nepal too was involved in such a case.
Pedophiles will continue to target Nepal unless the nation beefs up its immigration department and enforcement agencies and educates its people. Nepal cannot afford to let its poor citizens become exploited in the hands of those who enter the nation in the name of tourism.
While the poverty rate has been decreasing in Nepal, there are still children from poor families who are easily lured by pedophiles.
This phenomenon needs to stop and it is only the government that can protect the vulnerable children. Or else the narrative that foreigners are to be treated like gods will soon fade away from the Nepali culture and our children will be forever exposed to pedophilia.
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