There are many complexities that go into human trafficking rescue work. There are ALWAYS cultural nuances to be aware of, social systems to understand, and survivor interactions that take place during a raid. On April 28, we broke a rescue announcement where seven girls were freed from forced prostitution in India, and four traffickers were arrested. Here are some details from Operation TIGER.
The particular community in rural India, where the raid took place, has been known to gather together and attack police as a mob. Knowing this, BRAVO Team had to arrange for a police team with sufficient manpower in the event a mob formed. Our team of nationals courageously chose to pursue the raid anyway despite the risk to personal safety.
In a field report, BRAVO Team investigators explained that during the raid, all the survivors were completely shocked to see the police team. From the report: “The girls didn’t know what was going on. They were requesting to be released because they thought the police were arresting them, and not rescuing them. A few of them even wanted to run away. They were confused…” Thankfully our team and social workers were able to explain to them that they were not going to be arrested but were actually being removed from the brothel, and then they were able to calm down.
While in some parts of the world human trafficking looks like runaways on city streets, in India survivors are often kidnapped at very young ages from their home villages. They are held until they reach womanhood and are then forced into prostitution. At that point forward, they have to attend to multiple customers a day.
Aditi*, one of the minor girls who was rescued in Operation Tiger, had been forced into sexual slavery for the past year and a half. She had no education and came from a very poor family. She was likely kidnapped from her village.
Investigators from BRAVO Team found Aditi in a small roadside brothel. The investigators described it as a very low-profile brothel, with only a cot or a bedsheet on the floor for sex. BRAVO Team had investigated this brothel in the past and found minors there before. After engaging police support, the successful raid was completed. Six of the girls who were rescued were minors, the youngest being only 12 years old.
For now, Aditi will be kept in a government safe home, and a local Child Welfare Committee will assess her case, along with the other girls’, and make further decisions concerning post-raid care. From a village to a brothel, Aditi is now safe and that is a reason to celebrate.
*Aditi is a representative name meaning free and unbound. All photos used here are representative.
Thank you to our friends at Messenger International who funded this raid and helped make freedom possible.