Calcutta teen rescued from sleaze den
A 15-year-old girl allegedly forced into prostitution was rescued from a house near Thakurpukur on Tuesday afternoon.
Two women who were allegedly running a trafficking racket from the single-storey house in Kabardanga, less than 5km from Tollygunge Metro station, were arrested.
A report released two years ago by the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the NGO International Justice Mission (IJM) said minor girls were being trafficked in large numbers and forced into prostitution in houses, massage parlours and hotels in the city as well as in the districts.
On Tuesday, a police team rescued the teenager with the help of the NGO. She has been sent to a shelter.
The women who were arrested have been identified by their first names — Jhuma, 29, and Sampa, 27.
Sampa, the police said, was held during a raid on another prostitution den a few years ago.
The teenager, who lives in a pocket on the southern fringe, is said to have told the rescuers that he had been “working” for the two women for a year.
The girl has not completed school and lives with her mother and a 19-year-old brother.
The family runs on the money sent by the husband of her elder sister.
“She said she was raped at the age of nine by a neighbour. She did not disclose it until her mother took her to a doctor for gynaecological problems,” said a volunteer with the International Justice Mission, who was part of the rescue team.
According to the girl, she had come in contact with Sampa through a friend last year. Sampa is said to have lured her with the promise of a job. She was allegedly assaulted by multiple men on the first couple of days.
“Sampa took her to various houses and hotels across the city, where she was exploited. Jhuma rented a portion of the Kabardanga house for the same purpose,” an officer of Lalbazar’s anti-trafficking unit said.
“The girl is still traumatised and will take some time to open up. It seems she had been threatened by the women,” the volunteer said.
The house from where the teenager was rescued stands in a bylane in the interiors of Kabardanga. Neighbours said they had no clue what was going on there.
“Rape is a social stigma. Victims become more vulnerable, like in this case. The absence of a robust education system and poverty made the girl more vulnerable,” said Saji Philip, director of operations in the Calcutta wing of the International Justice Mission.
Jhuma and Sampa have been remanded in police custody. They have been charged under the Indian Penal Code sections related to procurement and trafficking a minor into prostitution.
Sections under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act have also been slapped on the two.