Sex Trafficking Survivors Set Free from Months in Darkness

The iron gate leading to the brothel where half a dozen young women were being trafficked and exploited for sex.
The iron gate leading to the brothel where half a dozen young women were being trafficked and exploited for sex.

MUMBAI, INDIA – IJM helped rescue half a dozen young women from an abusive brothel—including one young woman who said she hadn’t seen sunlight for three months.

Rescue Comes Swiftly

On July 3, IJM received a call for assistance from the city police. The social service branch–a unit of the city police that work on cases and crimes related to women—had received a tip that girls were being trafficked and exploited for sex in a brothel in one of Mumbai’s red-light districts.

It was dusk when the rescue team of police and IJM staff arrived in the red-light district. The brothel was housed in a multi-story building. The first challenge would be getting a brothel keeper to open the door at the top of the staircase. One of the suspects came to the iron gate and let the undercover police come in, thinking they were customers there to buy girls.

On the other side of the gate, nine rooms lined a long hallway. As soon as the gate was opened, the rest of the rescue team quickly ascended the stairs and filtered into the rooms to find the young women trapped inside. Brightly colored pictures hung on the crumbling walls, the happy scenes a mockery to the abuse taking place inside.

As police secured the site to gather evidence and arrest the brothel managers, IJM staff and government social workers explained what was happening to the young women. Many were confused and afraid, but they started to open up once they left the brothel, understood that they were not in any trouble and were taken to a safe place.

Shared Stories and a New Beginning

Several of the young women spoke different languages and were from other states; they said they’d come to Mumbai on false promises of good jobs.

The survivor who not seen sunlight since she arrived three months earlier recounted the harrowing torture and abuse she endured during the first ten days when she was being initiated into this new life.

All six survivors are now safe in government shelters. IJM social workers will continue to follow up with each survivor to develop a long-term plan for her health and wholeness.

South Asia, Rescue, Sex Trafficking