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Relentless Police and IJM Staff Rescue 15-Year-Old Girl from a Brothel

After several attempts at rescue, a teenage girl has finally been freed from a dangerous red-light district in Kolkata, and she now has a chance at healing and peace.

Local authorities had first tried to rescue her nearly three weeks ago, after learning she was underage and being forcibly held in a high-end brothel. During the initial attempted rescue operation, however, she ran away in fear. Many trafficking victims are brainwashed to believe police will arrest or abuse them; this is how traffickers keep children from ever seeking help.

IJM Kolkata staff and anti-trafficking police continued to search for her relentlessly, and even alerted the IJM team in Mumbai—another sex trafficking hotspot—in case this girl was sold to another brothel across the country.

Last week, the team successfully found her again in the red-light district and brought her to safety. We are slowly learning more about her story.

Police believe she is just 15 years old, and that she was trafficked from Bangladesh and sold for sex for months in the brothel. She suffered regular physical and verbal abuse from the brothel owners and from customers.

Authorities also arrested the madam running the brothel—a woman who had previously been arrested in two previous IJM cases from 2012 and 2014. Each time, she was released on bail and exploited other girls. IJM staff will work with local officials to fight any future bail attempts so she can finally be held accountable for her alleged crimes.

Saptarshi Biswas, IJM Kolkata’s director of justice solutions, says, “The operation was executed smoothly under the skillful leadership of the Officer-in-Charge of the Kolkata Police Anti-Trafficking Unit. This rescue was a great example of proactive policing to reduce the crime of sex trafficking.”

The rescued girl is now safe at a secure shelter home, where she will receive counseling and emotional support as her case progresses. She’s just beginning her journey of restoration and—with help from our supporters and NGO partners—IJM will walk by her side until she feels confident and whole again.

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