Updated: Mar 1
We first met 15-year-old Saba at a brothel in a crowded residential area of Kolkata. We received a lead about a minor in prostitution on January 31st. We verified the lead, then were directed by the police to go to the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU). After a couple delays, we were able set up a raid with the police for February 3rd.
Saba’s father is a rickshaw driver who earns Rs 350 (about $4.25) a week. Her mother is a homemaker and she has four brothers and four sisters. Saba didn’t go to school but her parents did enroll her for private tuitions, which she qualified for through government support because she has dwarfism. The need for money and some bad influences opened the door to prostitution in this petite young girl's life.
Saba’s elder sister’s friend had sex with underage Saba a few months before we found her with customers in the brothel. After that, he and a friend started blackmailing her that they would tell her family about the sexual encounter if she didn’t continue sleeping with them and with customers as well. Saba and another sister started making money through prostitution - each were given Rs 500 (about $6) per customer. Saba also mended shoes and earned Rs 350 a week. For this impoverished family every rupee is needed for survival, and at her young age Saba isn't aware of the many dangers of getting into prostitution; severe emotional and mental trauma, multiple abortions, hernia, loss of appetite, depression and sexually transmitted diseases, some which could prove fatal. Thankfully, we were able to intervene, and rescued Saba from the brothel at 3:30pm on Friday, February 3rd.
Following her rescue, Saba was placed temporarily in a shelter home. Saba’s parents cannot provide for her and if released from the shelter home; now that she has had a taste of earning quick money, we are concerned she will return to prostitution if she hasn't developed other options for making money to survive. We hope the judge passes an order for Saba to continue living in the shelter home in Kolkata. This young traumatized girl needs counseling and to be in a safe place where she can develop skills and gain resources for a healthy future.