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Minors rescued from sex trafficking in private residence

MUMBAI- The Social Services Branch of Mumbai Suburban, received information from anti-trafficking organisation International Justice Mission (IJM) about two young girls forced into commercial sexual exploitation at a private residence in Chembur. Two minor girls, one aged 15 years and the other between 13-15 years, were rescued in the operation led by Special Police Officer, Inspector Prabha Raul of the Social Service Branch. The victim who said she is 15 years, had an AADHAR Card in her name which stated her age to be 22, while the other young girl didn’t know her age. A complaint against the two female accused, the brothel owner and her accomplice has been lodged under sections 366A, 370, 370A, 372, 376 of the Indian Penal Code, sections 3, 4, 5 and 7of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) and 4, 6, 8, 10 and 17 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (PoCSO) Act.

As the rescue was completed after sunset the two female accused will be arrested on Wednesday morning by RCF Police Station, according to section 46 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Further investigations in the case will be carried out by RCF police station. Both victims belong to the Bedia community, where girls are expected to maintain family tradition and prostitute. In this case they were forced to service customers at the residence of the primary female accused. The accomplice would bring the young victims to the premises where the owner would have customers waiting. This case exemplifies the change in trend from locational based prostitution to sexual exploitation being carried out through private networks.

Both the victims are currently placed at a government shelter home and will be produced before the Child Welfare Committee on Wednesday. The two female accused will face trial for procuring a minor, detaining, trafficking and exploiting both victims and living on the earnings of prostitution. Since the victims are minors 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.

“These private residences through which private networks work, are the new modus operandi of sex traffickers, usually located in residential areas of suburbs in Mumbai, unlike the conventional hotspot areas where brothels operate. These networks function through word of mouth, and are harder to uncover as opposed to the conventional location based prostitution.” said Michael Yangad, Director of Operations, IJM Mumbai. Such cases uncover the sad truth of erroneous identity documents and the prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation through traditional communities.

Contact: Joanita Britto - jbritto@ijm.org