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Sunday, February 8, 1998 Published at 17:59 GMT



Despatches

Prince Charles visits Kathmandu shelter, Gurkha village
image: [ Prince Charles meets some of the residents at the shelter ]
Prince Charles meets some of the residents at the shelter

The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, continuing his visit to Nepal, has visited a shelter in Kathmandu where young girls are cared for after being rescued from prostitution or abandonment. Many of them are infected with HIV. The centre was started by a local woman in 1993. From Kathmandu, Paul Reynolds reports:

This centre is a place of tragedy but also of hope. The first two girls Prince Charles met were rescued only yesterday at the border as traffickers tried to take them to brothels in India.

One 11-year-old he spoke to had been raped by four men when she was seven. She smiled at him and like the others gave him flowers.


[ image: The centre offers the girls a safe place to live and study]
The centre offers the girls a safe place to live and study
For each he raised his hands together in the traditional greeting. He met several girls who were infected with HIV when in brothels in India. Three have Aids.


Prince Charles praises founder of shelter (0'11")
As he left he commented on the work the founder has done here:

"Thank goodness for people like Mrs Koirala, who has dedicated her life to this sort of thing. Without people like her the situation would be obviously infinitely worse."

The Kathmandu shelter sometimes has to stage daring rescues of girls from Indian brothels, where they are kept under strict control.

It's believed that 5,000-7,000 girls and women are trafficked from Nepal to India each year. Among the causes are poverty and ignorance, a disregard for the girl child but also greed by parents who sell their own children.

Often the girls are tricked into commercial sex by being promised a job or marriage.

Prince Charles, on the last full day of his visit to Nepal, flew north of Kathmandu by helicopter to visit a Ghurka village. There had been complaints recently from Ghurka veterans about the level of their British Army pensions but the Prince was well received, as Paul Reynolds reports:

The village of Lamjung, set in a river valley amid beautiful mountains, had organised itself along almost military lines for the visit.

Children in English-style school uniforms of blazers or sweaters, stood patiently for several hours. They clapped politely as Prince Charles passed.


[ image: The Prince meets a Gurkha veteran]
The Prince meets a Gurkha veteran
He met several veterans, one a 76-year-old who'd won the Victoria Cross in Burma. But no word of complaint came from them. Underneath however, they do feel that though good by Nepali standards, their pensions should be nearer those paid to other British regiments.

Despite the worries over their pensions, the people of this little Ghurka village have given the Prince a very warm welcome and there's been no sign of any demonstration.

He is now at a school watching a little dancing display by the pupils. It's so striking that the people are so patient and so disciplined. These are the virtues of course for which the British Army has valued them for so many years.
 





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