Day 3 - Keona
On January 17th in the late afternoon we received a lead. A minor girl was being forced into prostitution at a hotel in the outskirts of Nagpur. We confirmed the information, then went directly to the Superintendent of Police.
We shared the information we had about the suspected minor victim, Keona. He agreed to provide a team for rescue and also connected us with the Anti Human Trafficking Unit, AHTU. We had intel that the victim would only be at the hotel for two hours in the evening. We had to work quickly and strategically to rescue Keona.
Our team reached the location of the hotel first and discussed strategies with the police.
At 6:30 pm the police raided the hotel. They arrested a 52 year old male and a 24 year old male from the hotel. We started checking all the rooms for Keona and finally found her on the first floor. Give today to rescue more young girls like Keona.
While we were checking other rooms, we found four other major (over 18) victims. The trafficker, a woman who was approximately 50 years old, and another person who handled the transactions, managed to escape. We were told the older woman would identify girls who were destitute, and lure them into prostitution.
Even though the rescue happened at 6:30 in the evening, it took more than 12 hours to finish documenting the rescue: the third party witness to recorded her statement, the victims to shared their statements, and the police completed their reports. We waited outside the hotel throughout the procedure, relieved that five victims were rescued.
At 7 am everyone headed to the nearest police station. The Anti Human Trafficking Unit was very thorough in filing the First Information Report. Later that day all five victims were taken to court to give initial statements. While Keona’s statement was recorded in the judge’s chambers because she was a minor, the other four victims gave their statements in court. The judge passed the order that all the girls should be placed in a shelter home temporarily, and the two accused would remain in police custody until the police investigation was completed. We accompanied the victims for their first round of medical tests and then to the shelter home.
In less than four hours of gathering intel, Keona and four other victims were rescued. Thanks to the responsiveness of our team and the police, we prevented traffickers from getting wind of the raid or changing Keona's location before she could be rescued.
In the first weeks after her rescue, Keona felt pressure to return to prostitution so she could earn money. Our social workers have continued counseling her and helping her see more possibilities for her future. On March 1st, Keona shared her excitement about living in the shelter home and enrolling in school!