In May 2012, our team of investigators found five girls who were forced into prostitution in a hotel on the outskirts of Nashik, Maharashtra. An investigator paid Rs. 1300/- (approx. $21) to engage the youngest girl, while the others surveyed the hotel. The girl was from West Bengal, an eastern state in India, and was sold to the brothel three months earlier. She was miserable and wanted to go back home. Unlike most brothels, the rooms where the girls were kept were clean with good lighting; on the outside, the building looked like a respectable hotel. It was a clandestine operation, most people were stopped at the entrance. When our investigators attempted to enter the first time, they were questioned and only allowed in after they claimed to be regular customers. Later that day, the video footage taken at the hotel was shown to the Nashik police who agreed to launch a raid.
Rohit, the brothel keeper, and Yogesh, the customer, were arrested when the girls were rescued. Statements taken from the girls revealed that they were trafficked and forced into prostitution. A First Information Report (F.I.R) was filed and the accused were charged under sections 3 - “Punishment for keeping a brothel or allowing premises to be used as a brothel,” 4 - “Punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution,” 5 - “Procuring, inducing or taking person for the sake of prostitution,” and 7(1)(b) - “Prostitution in or in the vicinity of public places,” of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act. Rohit and Yogesh were released on bail shortly after arrest.
For more than a year there were no developments in the case until Freedom Firm followed up with a letter requesting the police to complete the investigation and file the charge sheet. Within a month, the police filed the charge sheet and added more serious sections of law from the Indian Penal Code, (366 - Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage etc., 366B - Importation of girl from foreign country, 372 - Selling minor for purposes of prostitution, 373 - Buying minor for purposes of prostitution and section 376 - Punishment of Rape). The bail for Rohit and Yogesh was canceled and both were sent to jail.
Even though Indian law favors releasing the accused on bail, both Rohit and Yogesh spent almost 8 months in jail after being charged with the more serious crimes. The trial is still pending and a conviction is possible. Even without that, Rohit and Yogesh have paid a price for their crimes, a deterrent was created, 8 months in jail will make them think twice before committing the same offense again. The system is changing.