At risk: Girls like Gira
Gira* was rescued by Freedom Firm from Meerganj, Allahabad’s red-light area, in April 2015. Her mother and brothel-keeper, Lajja Chadda, was also arrested and sections from the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act were included in the FIR. The raid took place soon after Freedom Firm staff met the Director-General of Police in Lucknow, UP, who issued a letter to the Senior Superintendent of Police (S.S.P.) in Allahabad stating that information of minor girls in prostitution is an urgent matter and instructing the police to respond immediately. This finally happened after more than 2 months of effort to rescue minor girls in Allahabad.
After her rescue, Freedom Firm staff recognized Gira as she had already been rescued in 2011 and soon released to her parents. Sadly in April, Gira was released by local magistrates to her parents who were complicit in her trafficking.
This is a clear violation of proper legal procedure as magistrates are only allowed to release major girls after an inquiry is done. In the case of minors, only the Child Welfare Committee has the authority to release girls.
Disappointing as it is, this is not surprising. We have experienced a chronic lack of government protection in Nagpur, Maharashtra as well. In the weeks and months that followed, Freedom Firm consulted with local advocates to petition the Allahabad High Court to take measures to protect minor girls after they are rescued from prostitution and also to follow up with Gira.
*name changed to protect identity