MUMBAI, INDIA – After a last-minute delay threatened to throw off the entire operation, a small team of police and IJM Mumbai staff rescued girls from a rural inn where they were being sold for sex.
IJM had uncovered evidence that minors were being sold for sex in a lodge located outside the city. They took the evidence to the region’s anti-trafficking police—a unit that was trained by IJM earlier this year. On Saturday, November 16, the planned operation had to be rescheduled because several police officers were still on another sting operation to catch traffickers working in the area.
Everything was ready when the IJM team of social workers and support staff went back on Monday. Local police joined the specialized anti-trafficking unit, and the rescue team arrived in the late afternoon.
There were multiple challenges upon arrival—the inn was located in the middle of an open field and cell phone service was very poor. But the rescue team worked quickly and efficiently to enter the lodge and rescue four young women inside.
One survivor has said she is 16 years old, and all of them are now safe and receiving crisis care. Three suspects were arrested during the operation, and they are being held on criminal charges and several counts from India’s anti-trafficking law. Several of the police officers had previously attended IJM legal workshops and used materials from their training throughout the operation.
IJM Mumbai Field Officer Director Sanjay Macwan said his team felt “jubilant” to see their efforts bring freedom to four young women. While it will be a long journey of restoration for the survivors, he added, “they now have a context wherein free choice and abundant life is possible.”