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Leap to flee from brothel

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 13.08.10
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Aug. 12: A 19-year-old girl from Assam jumped off the second floor of an Agra building last night to escape from a brothel after seven months of torture.

“She fell in front of a grocery store and suffered minor injuries. Locals quickly took her to hospital and later handed her over to police,” Asfaq Ahmad, the city superintendent of police, Agra, said today.

The teenager, who had left home in January with an acquaintance who promised her a job as a household help in Pune, is the fifth woman from the same Assam district — Nagaon — to be rescued from a brothel since June.

She screamed for help as she fell on the street in the Nai Basti neighbourhood of Agra’s Kashmiri Bazar around 9pm.

Mohammad Rahfatullah, the local municipal councillor who happened to be on the spot, took her in his charge before handing her to the police, saving her from being sent back to the brothel.

“The unmarried woman was sold to a man in Pune in January when she reached that city with an acquaintance from Assam who had promised her a job,” Rahfatullah said.

The police, who have registered a case of rape, abduction and torture against unknown persons, are trying to help her return home to Batan village in Nagaon.

“We are contacting our counterparts in Assam and trying to contact her parents,” the superintendent said.

But Nagaon additional superintendent of police (headquarters) Amrit Bhuyan said no information about any woman being rescued in Agra was received till this evening.

“If we are given the information, we will do whatever is required,” he said, adding that three girls from Nagaon were rescued from a Pune brothel in June, and a 35-year-old married woman was brought back from one in Mumbai in July.

“Trafficking of women is assuming menacing proportions with a gang active in this area. Recently, we identified one Mamoni, who is said to be a member of the gang. We are trying to trace her,” Bhuyan said.

The 19-year-old was produced in the Agra additional chief judicial magistrate’s court this morning and then sent to a government shelter for women where she will stay till her parents come and take her home. Medical tests were also conducted on the court’s orders.

Ahmad said the girl had told the police she was threatened and tortured by agents of brothel keepers for three months in Pune to force her into the flesh trade. “All the while, I was trying to escape and go home but I was terrorised and kept in confinement,” she said.

In March, she was taken to Delhi and sold to a woman called Puja Kumari, a resident of Agra who runs a brothel in Nai Basti, the police said. “I was tortured with burning cigarette butts and assaulted,” she told the police in Agra, breaking down as she showed her burn injuries.

Hasina Kharbhih, team leader of the Impulse NGO Network, the first organisation to take up the issue of trafficking in the Northeast, said: “Not only young women from poor families but also from middle class families are being lured with job opportunities to different part of India and South East Asia, mostly as escort girls. It is difficult to give the numbers as most cases go unreported. However, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram are the worst affected in the region, followed by Manipur.”

Kharbhih said sex tourism was also on the rise in Assam and Meghalaya, followed by Sikkim.