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IN PHOTOS: 200 ‘Kung Fu nuns’ begin 3,000-km bike trip for gender equality

‘Kung fu nuns’ trade robes in Nepal for lycra in month-long bike journey to empower women
WATCH: Buddhist nuns, trained in martial arts, kicked off a month-long journey on bikes from Nepal through India on Saturday, swapping their maroon robes for lycra leggings. The purpose is to raise awareness about human trafficking and gender equality.

Over 200 Buddhist nuns trained in martial arts kicked off a month-long bike journey from Nepal through India on Saturday, Dec., 23.

Known as the “Kung Fu nuns,” the Buddhist nuns of the Drukpa order frequently organize cycling trips and pilgrimages in support of gender equality, as well as other issues. This year, the women will also ride to raise awareness about human trafficking. Last year, the nuns rode to draw attention to environmental issues.

“We are starting our fifth cycle yatra [pilgrimage] today and our main mission is about increasing awareness about female empowerment, the environment and human trafficking,” nun Yeshe Lhamo told Agence-France Presse (AFP).
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Every year, thousands of women and children across South Asia are lured into cities and across borders with the promise of lucrative jobs and a better life, but are instead sold into modern-day slavery.

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Since a catastrophic earthquake left thousands of people homeless in 2015, Nepal has seen a rise in the number of trafficking cases. The region’s human rights commission estimated that there were approximately 23,200 cases of trafficking or attempted trafficking last year.

The trip will span a 3,000-kilometre route from the hills of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, pedalling through south India to Delhi and then to Darjeeling.

WATCH: Hundreds of Buddhist monks clash with police officers in Thailand

Hundreds of Buddhist monks clash with police officers in Thailand
Hundreds of Buddhist monks clash with police officers in Thailand

The nuns said they stumbled upon several cases of human trafficking while doing volunteer work with earthquake victims.

“That’s how we had this idea of going on this cycle yatra to all the remote places and telling people we are all girls. Girls are capable of doing everything,” said 23-year-old nun Jigme Konchok Lhamo.

*With files from AFP

Kung Fu nuns on cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with message of women empowerment and raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns on cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with message of women empowerment and raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns performing their training on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns performing their training on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns performing their training on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns performing their training on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns on cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with a message of women empowerment and to raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns on cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with a message of women empowerment and to raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns on a cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with a message of women empowerment and to raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns on a cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with a message of women empowerment and to raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns all set for their cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with a message of women empowerment and to raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns all set for their cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with a message of women empowerment and to raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns performing their training on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns performing their training on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns performing their training on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns performing their training on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images) (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns all set for their cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with a message of women empowerment and to raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)
Kung Fu nuns all set for their cycle tour from Kathmandu to New Delhi with a message of women empowerment and to raise awareness on environment protection on Jan. 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur /Mint via Getty Images)