Justice was served in a Mumbai Sessions Court this week, as two local traffickers were found guilty for exploiting five girls and young women at a brothel in a 2015 case.
These men had run an illegal brothel in Kamathipura, which at the time was once the largest red-light district in India. They were confined to the brothel at all times and, because they had been trafficked from other parts of the country, did not know the local language to ask for help.
In March 2015, IJM supported Mumbai Police in a rescue operation at the brothel to free the five trafficking victims, including one minor girl. The survivors were brought to safety at an aftercare home, and today all of them are living independently. Two of the survivors decided to testify in the trial, helping to build a strong case for convicting their abusers.
The trial was not without its challenges, however. It faced multiple delays when four different presiding judges were transferred or re-assigned. The traffickers’ defense attorneys had tried to further delay the trial by lodging false complaints against IJM staff, but these were quickly dismissed. Courts were then closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, until a judgment was finally announced on August 3 when courts re-opened.
Both traffickers in this case were found guilty under five sections of India’s laws against human trafficking and running a brothel. They will serve seven years in prison and pay a fine, with additional funds ordered for the survivors’ compensation. The judge also ordered the brothel to be closed within seven days of the judgment.
IJM staff celebrated not only justice served for these five young women, but also the proactive and victim-sensitive actions of officials across the public justice system. Police were diligent in following up with witnesses. Shelter home staff and probation officers collaborated with the courts to support the survivors through the legal process. And judges and prosecutors remained very sensitive toward the survivors in court, so they could participate with confidence and share the truth.
These attitudes are demonstrating positive momentum in Mumbai’s response to sex trafficking, and these two strong convictions show how traffickers can no longer expect to get away with their crimes.