MUMBAI- On Saturday, 20 October 2018, Senior Police Inspector, Mr. Daundkar, of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, Thane City and his team conducted a raid at a brothel in Bhiwandi to rescue six young girls. The girls aged between 17-24 were induced into prostitution in the notorious area of Bhiwandi, where rescue operations are often sidelined due to law enforcement needs. The information was provided to the police by International Justice Mission (IJM), an anti-human trafficking organization.

The perpetrator, who managed the brothel fled the scene before the police arrived. Thus the assistant to the brothel keeper was the only one apprehended on the night of the rescue. The police are currently on the look-out for the brothel keeper and the owner of the premises, to whom the “chawl” room belongs.

The brothel is located in the red-light area of Bhiwandi. The 17 year old’s plight was apparent as she immediately ran into the arms of the woman police sub-inspector at the time of the rescue. She informed the police that her boyfriend from her village in Karnataka had handed her over to a brothel keeper in Turbhe three years ago. After that she was moved to Pune and then returned to Mumbai, to the brothel in Bhiwandi, from where she was rescued on Saturday. Another victim had arrived from Karnataka four days prior and was brought to the brothel by her friend who promised her a job. Both girls immediately shared their experience of deceit with the police. The remaining four victims had been trafficked from Nepal and told the police they had come to India in search of work due to poverty in their villages, because of which they were trafficked to Mumbai.

“According to the victims from Karnataka, the accused brothel keeper, would force them to attend up to 3-5 customers a day. If they refused, the brothel keeper would brutally beat and abuse them.” said a social worker who was present on the rescue. The youngest victim would repeatedly ask customers to relieve her plight and feared the brothel keeper’s wrath. The police ensured all six victims were transferred from the brothel to a government shelter home for protective care and rehabilitation service to be provided to them. A complaint has been lodged at the Bhiwandi Town Police Station against the female accused and the two wanted accomplices. The complaint contains charges under sections 366A, 370, 370A (2), 372 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, sections 4, 8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and sections 75 and 81 of the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act.

“This rescue proved to be a challenge in terms of police availability during the festival of Navratri. We have noticed an increase in the demand of young girls for commercial sexual exploitation in brothels and red-light areas in the festive season. Thus we were even happier to have been able to assist the police in rescuing not just one, but six victims from the brothel,” said Melissa Walavalkar, Director of Justice Solutions, IJM Mumbai.