13 year old Mahi in Blue in August 2022

The police and our team rescued 13 year old Mahi from a brothel in Moradabad in August 2022. Our social workers have beeen visiting Mahi at the shelter home in Moradabad where she was part of our life skill classes.

On 12th January 2023 when social worker Anjana visited the shelter home, she learned that Mahi was released to her mother.  Anjana continued to visit Mahi at home. Mahi’s mother begged for a living and didn’t have money or the means to look after her daughter. Mahi was always so sad and sullen when Anjana visited her. Anjana would often take her for a meal or treat to cheer her up. A few of the times when we visited, Mahi wasn’t at home and her mother always made some excuse that she was out.

Suspecting that the mother sent her daughter back to prostitution,  we have been trying to get the Child Welfare Committee to order that Mahi be sent back to the shelter home and the police to file a First Information Report against those who are trying to sexually exploit her.

Mahi’s mother pretending her daughter is ‘out’

On 7th March 2024, Anjana was back at Mahi’s mother’s house. Once again Mahi’s mother said her daughter was at a relative’s house and to come tomorrow. This time Anjana refused to budge and put pressure on her to get Mahi right away. Since the mother was not cooperating with Anjana, Anjana took her to the police station.  At the police station, Anjana requested the police to give her an application to file a missing person and kidnapping report.  In front of the mother, she filled out the report and submitted it. The police started to question Mahi’s mother, who finally broke down and confessed.  Mahi was back in prostitution.  She gave us the address of the brothel.  The police directed us to another police station (since Mahi’s was at an address that fell out of their jurisdiction.)

Once we reached the other police station, the police, Mahi’s mother and Anjana went to the brothel.  The door was opened by a woman. There was another man with her and three children.  The woman, Kaki, said that Mahi was unwell and went to the hospital. The police issued a warning to Kaki to present Mahi right away. In a few minutes Mahi turned up. It was evident that she washed the makeup off her face. She insisted that she was returning from the hospital. 

When the police checked the house, they found condoms. They immediately took Mahi and her mother to the police station.  Anjana called the Child Welfare Committee, CWC,  and asked them to pass the order for Mahi to be placed in a one stop shelter for her safety.  Mahi’s mother kept crying and saying not to separate her daughter from her. 

The CWC refused to issue an order to place Mahi in a shelter home, saying they couldn’t separate the mother from her daughter (they took this decision despite us sharing proof that Mahi’s mother kept re-trafficking her.)

The police were unable to keep Mahi and her mother longer so  they let the mother and daughter go. While we were dropping Mahi to her house, she shared that Kaki would send her to different hotels in Moradabad to have sex with customers.  Kaki was also giving Mahi hormone pills to speed up her development.  

On 8th March when we went to Mahi’s house to accompany her for her appointment with the CWC, Mahi was not at home. She had vanished into the night. The mother was yelling that someone took her daughter.  We had to put pressure on the police to file a First Information Report against the person who kidnapped Mahi. 

After a month of searching for Mahi,  Mahi came back home with a boy. A neighbour who we had spoken to a month ago when Mahi went missing called us and the police to tell us Mahi returned.  As soon as we reached Mahi’s mother’s house, Mahi was placed in safe custody.  We accompanied her for her medical tests. When we got to the police station, we learned that Mahi had given a statement to the police saying that in the previous month, we had coerced her to give a false statement so she shared information under duress fearing that she would be forcefully put in a shelter home and so she ran away.   

The police were familiar with Mahi’s case and knew about our work with minor victims of sex trafficking didn’t respond to her statement.  All we could do was wait and hope Mahi would be placed in a shelter home for her own safety and protection.  

We were happy when the CWC passed the order to place Mahi in a one stop center and then in a shelter home.  Right now our goals; Mahi’s rehabilitation to start and for the police to file a First Information Report against everyone responsible for sexually exploiting this young girl.