On Monday evening, IJM assisted Kolkata police on a rescue operation to free one teenage girl from sex trafficking in a private apartment operating as a brothel.
This was the second attempt to rescue minors from this apartment building and took weeks of careful investigations and coordination with the building’s owners. On March 21, some of the owners again noticed women being brought to the apartment and notified police. Officers were ready and called IJM to mobilize the operation in only half an hour.
Police discovered a woman had been renting one apartment as a cover for running a brothel. Officers spent several hours interviewing adults inside, when a man arrived with a 16-year-old girl asking for a room. This girl soon opened up to the officers and told them she had been forced to do this by her aunt. It was her first time, she said, and she was terrified.
Once this girl realized the officers were there to help her, she broke down crying in fear and relief. An IJM social worker helped explain everything that was going on and comforted her as the operation continued.
One IJM staff member shared, “When the girl broke down emotionally, our social worker explained that we are good people who want to help her. I told her she is in a safe place, and whatever will happen, it will be good.”
Police arrested five suspects associated with the brothel, and are holding one in custody related to trafficking this girl. Officers also assisted a 22-year-old woman who may have been forced to sell herself; they are still learning more about her story and will take action as facts emerge.
IJM helped the 16-year-old girl move to an emergency shelter home where she can begin working through her trauma. We will support the government social services in her long-term care, and will work together on a home study to determine when and if she can safely return home.