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Charles comforts girl dying of AIDS.

Prince Charles played the King of Hearts yesterday as he comforted a former child prostitute who's dying of AIDS.

He reached out and stroked the arm of 22-year-old Chameli, then gently clasped her hands in his.

It was a rare display of emotion from Charles - and brought back memories of Diana's caring work for the sick and dying.

It happened as he visited a safe haven for more than 120 abandoned and abused children in Nepal.

Many have been rescued from brothels in Indian cities like Bombay and Calcutta - and now have the AIDS virus.

The prince insisted on visiting the Maiti Nepal shelter during his hectic tour after hearing about it from a friend in Britain.

Chameli, who was 16 when she was sold into prostitution for pounds 150, was dumped on the streets by the Bombay brothel's owners when they found out she had the virus.

She's expected to die within a year and was in tears as she met Charles.

She said: "I am crying because it is the first time a man of any importance has touched me.

"He was a very nice gentleman. I feel very honoured."

The prince also reached out a hand to 15-year-old Gina, who was sold into prostitution by her uncle at the age of seven and is now HIV- positive.

And he looked shocked as he was introduced to 11-year-old Ashmita, the victim of a gang- rape when she was just seven.

An estimated 6000 girls from Nepal have been sold into India's sex industry.

Human traffickers tell the girl's fathers they will be earning pounds 3.60 a month working in carpet factories and offer them a year's salary - a fortune to poor Nepalese families - in advance.

But the girls finish up being sold for sex in seedy brothels.

Many were rescued and taken back to Nepal by one brave woman - Anuradha Kiorala, who runs the Maiti Nepal shelter.

She organises raids on the brothels and has saved 350 girls since it opened in 1993.

In return, she's been assaulted and had death threats from brothel owners.

But Anuradha, 47, shrugged off the risks.

And she added: "They are all my children here and the girls are very happy Prince Charles has come.

"They think that, at last, someone is behind us."
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Author:Ellin, Tony
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 9, 1998
Words:383
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