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Study on number of sexually exploited minors released

Minors available in public establishments less than 1%

KOLKATA- The West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) in association with the International Justice Mission (IJM) released new findings on the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Kolkata.

The report was released to the public by:
Dr. Sashi Panja, Minister in Charge of the Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare (DWCD).
Shri. Moloy Ghatak, Minister in Charge, Law & Judiciary Department and Labour Department, Government of West Bengal.
Smt. Ananya Chakraborti, Chairperson, West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights
Shri. Sanjay Macwan, Regional Director, IJM India.

Representatives from police departments, courts, government bodies, local businesses, and non-profit organizations were present.

Details about the study
Primary information for the study was collected from public and private establishments. Public establishments namely brothels & hotels while private establishments operated from residential premises, massage parlors & lodges. A total of 4143 sex-workers were documented from 451 public establishments and 131 sex workers from 40 private establishments.

According to the study results, the prevalence of minors in public establishments is 0.8% while the prevalence of minors in private establishments is 18 %. The minors observed in private establishments were 15 to 17 years old, all of whom were from West Bengal. The private establishments were predominantly located in the “south” zone of Kolkata. The crime is more hidden and organized in private establishments where children are provided to customers and contacts that are known to pimps.

Another unique observation was that 80% of contacts (pimps, madams, traffickers) in private establishments were females. This is different from the stereotypical notion of male-dominated exploiters and pimps. The ages of these contacts ranged from 16 to 58 years.

Harrowing details of false promises & violence

77% of children were defrauded with the promise of a good job before they were forced into sex work. Many were surprised to arrive in Kolkata and none of them had any notion that they were being brought into this trade.

In-depth interviews with trafficking survivors revealed the extent of violence children were subjected to once they were trafficked. The violence and trauma experienced during the conditioning period led to the degradation of children into sexual commodities. The process of breaking resistance can take days, weeks or months ranging between threat to murder. The key tactics experienced by children included physical violence, multiple rapes, being groomed for the sex trade from the ages of 8 onwards and lured towards a comfortable lifestyle.

Three survivors had witnessed murders of other sex workers as a warning against resistance. 55.5% of the survivors said they were beaten with objects such as sticks and/or rods.

Once conditioned children were found to provide sexual services to 7 - 18 customers a day leading to incredible profits for the perpetrators. Perpetrators earned between Rs. 1200 to 12000 per day -per victim while their annual revenues per victims ranged between Rs. 3 to 4.5 lakhs.

Need of the hour – multi-disciplinary strategy
In a recent incident, 30 perpetrators were arrested and 26 women including 8 children were rescued from a private network in Kolkata operating in a hotel premises. The state government has taken significant steps in combatting CSEC. Independent police action coupled with innovate state government schemes are proving to be major deterrence factors against the crime A multi-disciplinary strategy needs to be further designed to bring down this organised crime.

Sanjay Macwan, Regional Director, International Justice Mission said, “The West Bengal state has some of the most progressive anti-trafficking efforts in the country. The findings of IJM’s study reflect the impact of the state government’s initiatives, the proactive police efforts to deter crime, and timely convictions from the judiciary. It is not a distant dream to reduce the availability of children for commercial gains through sex. This can be achieved further by building capacity, ensuring inter-state collaboration and conducting further research.”

Key findings of the study

Public establishments
• Prevalence of children in public establishments is 0.8%
• 12% girls surveyed were 18-21 years old
• Estimated 4.4% of establishments in the hotspots have minors sold for sex
• All children observed were 16 to 17 years old

Private establishments
• Prevalence of children in private establishments is 18%
• The number of children observed in the private networks of the sex trade was 24 out of 131 sex workers
• 45% of contacts (pimps, madams & traffickers) promised children minor girls for sex
• Though not a representative sample, the proportion of minors to majors on this side of the trade warrants more research

Qualitative study with survivors
• 77.8% were lured into trade at the promise of a good job
• 57.1% survivors underwent a violent conditioning period
• 55.5% survivors were beaten with with objects such as sticks and/or rods

Panel speaks on trafficking trends
Following the release of the study, a panel discussion on the ‘Changing Trends in Human Trafficking’ was moderated by Anuradha Nagaraj of Thomson Reuters Foundation. The panel was chaired by:
• Shri. Bibek Chaudhuri, West Bengal Judicial Services (WBJS), Secretary of the Judicial Department
• Indra Chakraborty, IPS, Special Superintended of Police (Special), CID West Bengal
• Shri. Sanjay Macwan, Regional Director, International Justice Mission, India
• Smt. Ananya Chakraborti, Chairperson, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights
• Shri. Dev Kumar, Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare