On 10th January, Freedom Firm investigators found Mena* a minor girl in prostitution in the red-light area in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. When the police were alerted and ready to conduct the rescue operation, the area was tipped off and quickly began to shut down. On 11th January, the leading officer from the AHTU (Anti-Human Trafficking Unit), who was not available that day, assured cooperation from her staff. In the evening, the team initiated a rescue operation and within minutes Mena and three other girls – Madvi, Chandni and Rachi were rescued. Their brothel keeper was arrested and a case filed under sections of the ITPA (Immoral Traffic Prevention Act) and IPC (Indian Penal Code).

At the police station we found out that Mansi, Chandni and Riya were previously rescued in 2017 by another anti-trafficking organisation. They were released to their families who trafficked them once again. We will inform the court and hope that this time they will not be released to their relatives. The problem of re-trafficking continues to be a significant challenge in Meerut. This is common in places where anti-trafficking efforts are not well established. Freedom Firm is in the process of approaching higher courts to hold magistrates accountable for the lack of protection of minor girls.

*Names changed to protect identity