19 February 2018

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09/17/2016 NEPAL - INDIA

Buddhist nuns pedal for 4 thousand kilometers against human trafficking

The sisters belong to the Drukpa order and are experts in martial arts. This is why they are called "Kung Fu nuns". They crossed the Himalayas cycling and arrived in India. After the earthquake of 2015, the exploitation of women and children has increased. On their journey the nuns distributed food and medical care. 


Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - A total of 500 Buddhist nuns pedaled for 4 thousand kilometers across the Himalayas between Nepal and India to draw attention to human trafficking in the region. Jigme Konchok Lhamo, a 22 year old  nun, explains: "While last year we were helping relief to earthquake victims in Nepal, we learned of many poor girls being sold by their own parents because to help the family survive . We want to do something to change the mentality that considers women inferior to men. This mountain hike shows that women have the same power and strength as men”.

The trip started in Kathmandu and ended in the city of Leh, in northern India. The nuns belong to the Drukpa lineage - one of the "modern" schools of Tibetan Buddhism - and are expert in martial arts. Their skill has earned them the nickname "Kung Fu nuns" and they live mainly in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

Throwing off their monastic robes and donning sneakers and cycling helmets for their fourth major hike. Along the way they met the local people, government officials, religious leaders and spoke of gender equality, peaceful coexistence and respect for the environment.

The nuns distributed food to the poor and medical care to villagers. They were joined by Gyalwang Drukpa, the 12th head of the order. Jigme Pema Wangchen reformed the movement, inspiring  the revaluation of nuns. Before the reform, they were intended for the most menial jobs and were beaten and threatened by male monks. Gyalwang Drukpa gave them leadership roles and introduced courses of Kung Fu, so that women could learn to protect themselves.

Thanks to him, in the last 12 years the number of nuns has increased from 30 to 500 and are active in the spread of values ​​such as gender equality. They are fighting for women in Nepal who are sold as sex slaves by unscrupulous traffickers, attracted by the illusion of well-paying jobs, but then forced to sell their bodies in brothels and private homes.

The earthquake of April 25, 2015 resulted in about 9 thousand victims and left almost 40 thousand children without parents. They, too, are likely to fall into the hands of traffickers, often disguised as holy men and benefactors.

Nun Jigme Konchok Lhamo says: "People think that we have to be locked up in the temple and pray all the time, since we are nuns. But prayer is not enough. The Gyalwang Drukpa teaches us that we must go out and put our prayers into practice. After all, actions speak louder than words ".

See also

20/09/2011 INDIA
Himalayas earthquake, rescue work hindered by floods and landslides
Mud swamped roads make area accessible only by helicopter. Total casualties (India, Nepal and Tibet) more than 80 dead and at least 100,000 homes damaged. Indian State of Sikkim worst hit with 50 persons killed. For Fr. Felix Baretto , vicar general of the Catholic diocese of Darjeeling, the scene is “devastating”.

12/05/2008 NEPAL – TIBET
600 women arrested for pro-Tibet protest
The Nepalese government aligns itself with Chinese repression of Tibet and imprisons demonstrators, among them many Buddhist nuns. Nepal hosts more that 20 thousands Tibetan refugees, who cannot return home because of their opposition to Beijing.

09/02/2018 18:12:00 INDIA
Indian nuns, alone fighting human trafficking

AMRAT is an organisation that brings together more than 100 nuns from across India. Founded in 2009, it has established a network of civil and social groups. Yesterday was the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Trafficking in Persons. At least, 18 million people live in slave-like conditions in India.

07/06/2008 INDIA
Indian feminist movement calls for norms to regulate vocations
The Kerala State Women's Commission asks for the "fixing of the age at which women may choose consecrated life", at no lower than eighteen. A Catholic priest says this is a baseless attack, because the age limit is already contained in canon law, and emphasises the work of sisters "on behalf of women".

27/01/2017 16:07:00 NEPAL
India awards prize to Anuradha Koirala, a Nepali fighting women trafficking

In 1993 she founded Maiti Nepal, an NGO that has saved hundreds of girls from prostitution abroad. Every year, at least 5,000 women end up in India, China, as well as Arab and African countries. The Padma Shri is India’s fourth highest award.

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