MUMBAI- On Wednesday, 5 April 2018, Senior Police Inspector, Mr. Prakash Bhosle, of the Chembur Police Station conducted a rescue operation under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), to rescue two young girls aged 15 and 21 years, who were induced into prostitution. The information was provided to the police by International Justice Mission (IJM), an anti-human trafficking organization who had learnt of the commercial sexual exploitation of the girls belonging to the Bedia community. The woman arrested by the police for perpetrating this crime is also the mother of the 21 year old girl.

The rescue was conducted on the street in broad daylight, where the woman brought the girls to be selected by the potential customer. This is the new modus operandi of traffickers in the suburbs of Mumbai. The traffickers operate through a private network, the meetings are arranged over cell phones and via word of mouth. Following the transaction, the girls are then exploited at hotels or lodges in the vicinity.

One of the girls was to be sold for the first time as a virgin for INR 90000 by the pimp, her mother. The other 15 year old girl is the niece of the pimp and had already been conditioned into commercial sexual exploitation. Both victims had AADHAR Cards in their names, thus determining their age. The victims belong to the Bedia tribe in Rajasthan, where girls are expected to maintain family tradition and prostitute themselves.

The victims were placed into government shelter homes for preliminary care and protection after the rescue. Based on their remand before the Child Welfare Committee and the Special ITPA Court, they will be provided necessary government support. The female accused will face trial for procuring, coercing, trafficking and exploiting the victims and living on the earnings of prostitution. As one of the victims is a minor the case will be heard before the Special PoCSO Court at Churchgate, where the accused will be charged for abetment of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of a minor.

“We have seen that trafficking methods have evolved and now depend heavily on technology to sell and exploit minors for commercial sex. The technology, such as WhatsApp, enables pimps and customers to evade detection by meeting and carrying out the transactions in public spaces. This creates a greater challenge for those gathering evidence to convict the perpetrators.” said Michael Yangad, Director of Operations, IJM Mumbai.