MUMBAI, INDIA – In their first anti-trafficking operation of the year, IJM Mumbai helped police rescue two young women from one of the oldest and most notorious red-light districts in India.
One of the girls said she had been offered a job as a waitress, then trapped in a brothel and sold to four to five customers a day. The other young woman, named Ajita,* said she had been promised a job in a garment factory, then drugged and trafficked from her South Indian state to the bustling city of Mumbai. She said she had been trapped in the red-light district for more than five years.
An IJM social worker on the operation said that the rescue team had been looking for the younger girl who had been trafficked, but they didn't even know Ajita existed: "We just went for [the first girl], but God had a plan for Ajita. He found a way to rescue her even though we weren't looking for her."
Later that night, Ajita told the same social worker that she had first been trapped at another brothel in a large building before being moved to the one from which she was rescued. IJM had actually conducted a rescue operation in the building where this first brothel was located. When her owners realized that police were in the building rescuing trafficked girls from a neighboring brothel, they hid Ajita away in a tiny crawlspace. She spent six hours crammed in that pitch-black suffocating space. That terrible night, it had seemed like rescue would never come.
Both of the young women rescued on January 16, 2014, are now at a government shelter for survivors of sex trafficking. They have received critical medical treatment for diseases most likely contracted from the brothel's customers, and IJM will work with each survivor to develop an aftercare plan.
The Nagpada Police Department led the operation and arrested four suspects that night. One is on the run, but the others were taken into custody. IJM will help develop the case against the traffickers and pimps who have profited from the exploitation of girls like Ajita.