Today, Thamel has developed itself as an epicenter of entertainment and glamour. From its origin, it was established with the theme to satisfy the needs of tourists in every desired way, in-fact it caters all sort of entertainment from visual to physical to mental giving the stance of it being a hub. Likewise, today it has transcended itself to a new hub of glitter and glamour where it wakes-up in the night showcasing a new exhilaration and excitement in satisfying sexual needs and wants.
To be precise the growing numbers of Massage Centers and Cabin Restaurants in the periphery have created an attraction for young men and teenagers from around the valley in habituating a craze of sexual activities in its abode.
Namgyal Lama, President of Thamel Tourism Development Council (TTDC) said, “Thamel is a tourist hub, the way it is expanding and exploited with such social hazard activities has been a question to all. It has become a red light zone acclimatizing all its sexual activities in name of commercialization.”
Currently, there are more than 30 Dance Restaurants and 200 Massage Centers in Thamel where majority of such involve in sexual activities highlighting and giving stance to its audacity. On one hand it is against the law to sell or buy sexual activities whereas on the other it is directly creating a social menace.
In same view Lama stated that the issue is very sensitive and outsiders cannot help it, in-fact the Thamel residences should initiate an effort, which would be worth and effective. “In a tourist hub like Thamel where more than 2400 businessmen pay taxes, the government should give priority and security”, he added. We have formed a committee named Thamel Reform Committee (TRC) to channel the local bodies to clean such harzards. We are in the process of action.
He suggested, “Firstly, the activities of massage center and dance restaurants should be limited to professional level having no alternative for sexual activities and secondly there is no scope of dance restaurants in Thamel, as it does not interest the tourists and foreigners so it should be controlled. Moreover, the people of Thamel should be aware that just by paying an extra buck they should not rent their houses to such dance restaurants and massage centers.”
In today’s context when the sexual activities are openly run in such hub, the social scientists have already predicted a dramatic impact in the socio culture status of the society. In view of Tapan Kumar Dahal, Inspector of Sorkhutta Police Station said, “We are very trapped in situation of dilemma as when we raid on Massage Centers and Dance Restaurants the pressure groups like NGOs, INGOs and other women oriented organization gives us pressure and when we don’t take action, the public blame us saying we are working in hand with such group.”
Just few days back, during a raid in 8 major massage centers at Thamel, 26 girls and 9 guys were caught red handed in sexual activities. The girls caught aged from 18 to 35 where on investigation they reasoned poverty, lack of employment and illiteracy as their prime reason for involvement, according to Dahal. “This is just a beginning as we have initiated a full house operation where we do detail investigation,” he said.
Focusing on the professional ethics, he said that it is the duty of the Police to clean out such social menace and we are fulfilling it with a proactive and progressive approach. Moreover the public and police department should work together in such issues, which directly affects the societal values, norms and law.
From few days the Massage Center and Dance Restaurant issue have been raised, creating a media sensation of sex tourism and it effect but still the question of its legalization and implication lies hidden and un-addressed.
Similarly, Prof. Dr Rudra Pd. Updhayay, Central Dept of Economic and rural Development T.U Kirtipur said, “Sex tourism is a part of tourism which cannot be denied but sex industry is such controversial issue that it cannot be bypassed. From it origin sex industry has coherently adapted the culture and society. So the question of totally eradicating is impossible rather it can be controlled and regulated in a specified form.”
“The increase in sexual activities in Thamel and other hubs are the direct effect of inflation, violence and displaced situation. Moreover, women and sex industry is a sensitive issue which needs to be addressed with higher priority where women exploitation should be well address,” said Dr Updhayay.
Though Thamel has totally adapted the modern theme of tourism and entertainment, it lacks effective measures of monitoring and controlling which has resulted in such social deteriorating state. Perhaps the question of sex and sex tourism in tourism industry stands as a question seeking an answer.
By Shreedeep Rayamajhi