IJM assisted Kolkata’s anti-trafficking police on a successful rescue operation on Tuesday, July 16. They freed one 15-year-old girl from a year of abuse and from much longer patterns of traumatization.
The case followed a common pattern for private sex trafficking networks, which groom and exploit vulnerable girls dreaming of a better life.
Two female traffickers preyed on this girl because they knew she’d be easy to control: She lived in poverty with her siblings and widowed mother, who suffers from a critical heart condition. She had also survived a terrifying rape when she was 9 years old, which left her traumatized and too ashamed to confide in others.
After befriending her slowly, the women began bringing the girl to private apartments around Kolkata until arranging to sell her for sex. In that terrifying first instance, they forced her into a room where she was raped by two men for a profit. She was retraumatized and refused to speak out about the abuse, which allowed the traffickers to continually exploit her for a year.
IJM and anti-trafficking police tracked this network for months, until they were able to arrange a decoy meeting at a private home. As soon as it became clear the traffickers were ready to sell the girl again, police arrested them and brought the girl to safety.
Social workers quickly realized how deep the girl’s trauma ran: She had trouble remembering any details of her childhood rape or the past year of exploitation. All she knew was these experiences were bad, and therefore she didn’t want to tell anyone.
After helping her give a statement to police, IJM helped bring the girl to an aftercare shelter to begin recovering. From here, she will get immediate crisis care and then will join a longer-term aftercare program to finally address the trauma she has endured.
Police have filed charges against the suspects under India’s anti-trafficking and child protection laws. Saji Philip, IJM’s director of operations in Kolkata, commended the officers’ effectiveness, saying, “Police ensured the entire process—including rescue, evidence collection, victim and perpetrator statements, and charge-sheet filing—was completed in five hours. We are very grateful for the capability of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit officials in this case.”
Read more about this rescue operation in The Telegraph India.