MUMBAI, INDIA – Last week, IJM Mumbai assisted local police to rescue a woman who had been trafficked to a brothel, routinely beaten and exploited by customers who paid to rape her. Police arrested the brothel keeper, who will face trafficking charges.
The young woman was taken to a police station where she gave an initial testimony of the abuse and received immediate crisis care. “She had been beaten badly. She had knife marks on her hands and bad bruises all over her legs,” shared one of IJM’s staff members who stayed with her at the station late into the night.
Orphaned as a child, the young woman had been raised by relatives who forced her to move out when she completed high school. She was en route to a friend’s house when she was trafficked across state borders to Mumbai, a city of 18 million people.
When she arrived at the brothel, she was detained, beaten and forced to prostitute against her will. She could not insist that condoms be used. The brothel keeper charged customers 500 rupees (about $10) for one hour with her. She earned nothing.
At the police station, female officers were attentive to her needs and demonstrated great care as they recorded information about the abuse. Field Office Director Sanjay Macwan noted that several of the police officers had attended IJM Mumbai’s training the day before – a training for law enforcement officials on the law and procedures to counter trafficking.
“The leadership at this station knew exactly what to do and were very assertive and cooperative in this rescue operation,” Macwan stated. “We believe that the training that we provided yesterday in proper legal procedures and the importance of victim sensitivity in cases of commercial sexual exploitation has already reaped many benefits.”
IJM will continue to provide counselling and ensure the young woman receives proper medical attention and care from an aftercare shelter. Already she has expressed a desire to go back to school to learn computer programming. When one of the IJM staff started speaking the survivor’s native language, she said “she began to open up and share her story and dreams for the future.”