KOLKATA, INDIA – On a Thursday afternoon in October, Kolkata Police called IJM for assistance with an urgent operation in Kolkata's major red-light district. An IJM social worker and lawyer left immediately to meet the police, determined to find and rescue a girl who they believed had been trafficked there.
The police led the way to a brothel, which was dark, but for ominous red lights inside. Since it was daytime, brothel keepers and madams were asleep, many lying in the hallways. The team climbed the stairs to the fourth floor, quickly but quietly.
They found the small room where they had expected to find the girl they had come to rescue – but she was not there.
As they descended the stairs, one of the police officers noticed a small passageway leading out into a courtyard. He motioned for everyone to follow, and they quickly discovered another building – a larger brothel, shrouded in the same eerie quiet as the first. The officer led the way, searching each floor for a sign that might lead him to the girl. On the third floor, he noticed a woman – suspected to be one of the brothel keepers – locking a door. He insisted she open it. Inside, the young girl was waiting. The woman was arrested.
The IJM staff walked beside the girl as they left the brothel, out into the daylight. She later explained how she had taken a job offer from a woman in her village, then ended up in that locked room, forced to have sex with customers night after night. She said both her parents had died, and she had been desperate to earn money to support her elderly grandmother and two brothers.
Now the trafficking survivor is safe in an aftercare shelter, where she can receive the counseling and opportunities she will need to rebuild a life in freedom. The woman suspected to be the brothel madam is currently in police custody, awaiting formal trafficking charges. IJM will continue to support the case as it develops.