March 2020, young girls sit by a busy highway soliciting customers
An investigation in a dera (village) in MP late 2019 reveals minors standing outside a shop soliciting customers

What makes this rescue so special for Freedom Firm is that we are having a successful rescue operation in Mdhya Pradesh after 5 years.   The irony being that in Madhya Pradesh,  minor girls are dolled up and sitting outside their home that doubles up as a brothel, out in the open, along the highway, soliciting customers. Fathers and brothers are the victim’s  pimps and bodyguards, and stand close by ready to handle irritants like us. The police have always given them a wide berth as a few rescue attempts were met with physical violence and chilli powder thrown into their eyes.   In other cities, minors forced into prostitution are harder to locate and rescue as  brothel keepers take extra precautions to see that their investments are safely hidden from the police and NGOs that are waiting to rescue all the girls and women forced into their employ and shut their brothels down.

On 10 November 2021, our team was investigating an area in Ratlam when we came across a minor girl soliciting customers.  We shared the evidence immediately with the police. The police had some other matters to address so we had a four day wait till they decided to act on the evidence and rescue the minor.

Rescued girls share their details with our social worker

On 14 November at around 1:30 pm, the police and our team went to the location where the minor was soliciting customers.  When we reached her, one of the  police officers tried to grab hold of her. The minor, taken by surprise, threw a quick punch at the person closest to her, and fled from the area. The brothel keeper was immediately nabbed.  The minor ran so fast and disappeared into an open field close by, a few of us went after her but we were not able to find her.  A quick search through the brothel revealed three minors and two majors being forced into prostitution and 3 pimps and 5 customers present at the brothel as well. Eight of them were arrested on the spot.  After the initial reports were filed and evidence from the crime scene collected.  The six victims, nine accused, the police and us proceeded to the police station to complete the remaining formalities.  

Once we reached the police station, the police asked us to immediately leave as a mob was starting to gather and they wouldn’t be able to keep us safe. So our team left the area.  The police told us they would keep us informed and share the FIR copy with us later.

 Our conversations with the police since then has left us hopeful as they have promised to look into child prostitution in Madhya Pradesh more seriously and will coordinate future rescue operations with us. We were also happy to learn that the three minors are safe in a temporary shelter home, once the court passes the order and places the minors in a shelter home, we will start our restoration program with them.