Mumbai, India – On Monday, November 22, 2011, the Sessions Court for Greater Mumbai issued three strong convictions in two separate cases of commercial sexual exploitation. These cases originated from two rescue operations conducted in the fall of 2010 by the police, with information provided by IJM. During these operations, law enforcement officials rescued five trafficked women from the two brothels.
Additional Sessions Judge Smita Kadu convicted the keeper of one of the brothels of charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The judge ordered the brothel keeper to seven years’ imprisonment. In addition, the Judge convicted the brothel keeper of charges under India’s Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA), levying an additional two years’ additional imprisonment. The judge also demanded reparations for the victim in the amount of Rs. 10,000 (approximately $190 USD).
Previously, the judge had ordered the closure of the brothel, and noted in the judgment that the premises are now being used by a bag production business. “I can see a change in our court system,” says IJM advocate Ottilia D’Souza. “The judge took proactive steps to close the brothel. It is also good to see that decent jobs are becoming available” in the brothel area.
"These sentences are a big blow to traffickers in our city."
- Sanjay Macwan, IJM Mumbai Field Office Director
Earlier in the year, a trafficking survivor from this case bravely testified to the abuse she had endured in the brothel. She had been abandoned by her family at a train station and was drugged before she was brought to Mumbai. When she initially refused to prostitute, the brothel keeper tied her hands and feet with a rope and sent in her first customer to rape her. When the police conducted an IJM-supported rescue operation a few weeks later, the brothel keeper locked the girl with another woman working in the brothel in a small hidden compartment. They were only discovered two hours later when her cell phone began to ring, and the victim immediately asked for rescue. Today, she is recovering in an aftercare facility in the city.
“When I heard the sentence, I immediately thought of the victim and was so happy that justice had been secured for her,” said D’Souza.
In the case of the second brothel, Judge Gimekar of the Sewree Sessions Court of South Mumbai sentenced the brothel keeper to one years’ imprisonment under the ITPA. After their rescue last October, the victims were placed in aftercare shelters for trafficking survivors.
“Both of these convictions demonstrate the commitment in our public justice system to serve victims of sex trafficking, especially minors,” says IJM Field Office Director Sanjay Macwan. “This has been a goal of IJM over the past decade.” He adds, “These sentences are a big blow to traffickers in our city. They should know that the people of Mumbai will no longer allow them to operate with impunity, and that they will face accountability for their actions.”