28 February 2018
Passers-by might never have suspected what was happening within the walls of an everyday Kolkata hotel until anti-trafficking police arrived on 21 February with a shocking revelation: girls and young women were being sold for sex to private customers, all organised through a highly secretive trafficking network making thousands of dollars from their abuse.
On Wednesday afternoon, officers from the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) initiated a rescue operation at the hotel with help from IJM Kolkata and local government officials.
Police arrested 12 suspects tied to the trafficking ring, including three female accomplices, six employees and three customers. AHTU officers seized more than 200,000 rupees (almost AU$4,000) and additional evidence to build a case against the alleged traffickers. They filed initial charges against the accused under India’s anti-trafficking and child protection laws.
This type of trafficking racket—operating at a private hotel rather than in a traditional red-light district or brothel—has become increasingly common as criminals try to evade suspicion. IJM’s 2016 prevalence study in Kolkata found that brothels and public sex establishments have a low prevalence of minors (about 0.8%), but make up a higher proportion in private networks (about 18.5%).
“Hotel operators must keep close vigilance of criminals perpetrating commercial sexual exploitation of children [within their premises].”
The six survivors rescued from this hotel have been placed in a short-term shelter home for crisis care and initial rehabilitation. IJM and government social workers will work on individual treatment plans for each survivor to begin a trauma-informed aftercare program.
International Justice Mission protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems. Our team has helped local officials combat sex trafficking in Mumbai since 2000, and together we've brought hundreds of girls and young women to freedom. Join the fight against slavery.
International Justice Mission is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.Find out more