Minors at brothels give cops a nude shock
By: Alifiya Khan and Kaumudi Gurjar
65 minors rescued, but not before they try everything from hiding in cupboards to stripping to escape cops
Sub-Inspector Indira stood rooted to the spot, red-faced as a nude 12-year-old girl challenged her: "Ab mujhe le jaake dikha (now see if you can take me away)."
Indira was part of a 15-member team of police officers from Andhra Pradesh (AP) who rescued 82 sex workers, including 65 minors, from the red light district of Budhwar Peth.
NO Pics please: Two of the 82 sex workers rescued from brothels in the Budhwar Peth red light district in a joint raid by the Andhra CID and the city police. Sixty-five of the rescued were minors. Pic/Nikhil Ghorpade
The raid was carried out by the AP CID unit led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Shivaji, assisted by 35 city police officers. The raid that started at 7.30 pm on Monday went on till early in the morning yesterday.
"We were there to rescue the girls from the flesh trade, to rehabilitate and give them a better life. But the girls just refused to come with us. They wanted to continue doing sex work," said the woman officer from Khatri police station in AP's Anantpur district. "In fact, when we tried to force them out, a few stripped off their clothes and challenged us to take them out in that state."
Of the 65 rescued minors, 16 belong to AP and the others are from Nepal, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
Indira who has been a part of many rescue operations said she had never seen so many young girls forced into the flesh-trade.
"This is my second trip to Pune. Three years ago we rescued many minors from here. The number of minors in the sex industry in this city is greater than anywhere else," said Indira. "In other cities we usually find women who have no means of income or have regular families in this work."
Constable Naseema Shaikh said the minors were living in horrible conditions in brothels, and yet they refused to be rescued.
"We found some girls hidden in cupboards and small closets. Two girls were lying in a box bed with mattresses and pillows strewn over them with the lid closed. They were getting suffocated inside due to lack of ventilation. Yet, they refused to come with us and told us that outside life is over for them," said Shaikh.
The girls were produced in court after a medical examination at Sassoon hospital and 46 were sent to a remand home in Mundhwa. Of these, 20 girls said they were forced into prostitution.
A senior police official from AP said they had received a tip-off from three girls rescued in February.
"When we realised that more minor girls who were missing from Anantpur were trapped here, we came with high court orders to rescue them. They were rescued from three buildings, including well-known brothels like Sapna and Disco," he said. "We learnt from our sources that the information about the raid had leaked and that's why a few got away, or the number would have been even higher."