On Tuesday evening, November 7, IJM supported the Social Services branch of Mumbai’s police force on a rescue operation to free two teen girls from sexual exploitation at a private home.
One of the girls had been given a fake I.D. claiming she was 22 years old, but told authorities she was just 15. The other girl did not know her age, but is likely also 15.
Both girls come from the Bedia community, where women are expected to follow a tradition of prostitution. In this case, the two teens were being sold for sex by a pair of women who would arrange private customers in an unsuspecting apartment. One would keep the girls at the house, while the other trafficker would escort customers to their secret location for sex.
“These suburban residences through which private networks work are the new modus operandi of sex traffickers, unlike the conventional hotspot areas where brothels operate,” explains Michael Yangad, IJM’s director of operations in Mumbai. “These networks function through word of mouth, and are harder to uncover as opposed to the conventional location based prostitution.”
Authorities arrested both suspects on Wednesday morning and have filed charges under India’s anti-trafficking and child protection laws. They will continue investigating their trafficking network to build a solid case in court.
After the rescue operation, IJM social workers and police officials escorted the girls to a victim-friendly space at the Child Welfare Committee, where they could share their stories safely. In the next few days, they will stay at a short-term shelter home before moving to a longer-term home to begin trauma counseling.