Updated: Jul 18
At 11:00 am on July 22, 2019, an investigator called the office to inform the rest of the Freedom Firm staff that he had spotted a minor girl at Gautam Nagar's red-light district area in Chandrapur, Maharashtra. Freedom Firm staff drove to the police station in Chandrapur to report the investigator's findings. The Superintendent of Police accepted the rescue letter that contained information of the suspected minor girl. The crime-branch was informed and the Freedom Firm team joined the anti-human trafficking unit to conduct a rescue operation. By 5:30 pm on the same day, the investigator had been unable to spot the minor girl again or the brothel keeper in the red-light district. After waiting a few more hours, the rescue was postponed till the next day.
The next morning, after the investigator called with the news that both girl and brothel keeper had resurfaced, the team met with the same police inspector as the day before. He was tied up in a court case and was unable to assist. Concern began to grow since more than a few earlier rescues were thwarted by someone from the police informing the brothel keeper to make the minor girls scarce in exchange for a bribe.
Further delays accumulated until the raid was pushed forward again until the following day.
At 10:00 am the next morning, the team made their way once again to the police station to await a call from the investigator. At 1:30 pm, the call came. Everyone required for the raid to commence was present. At 3:00 pm a team of ten left for the brothel in Gautam Nagar, three female and four male officers from the anti-trafficking unit, and three members from the Freedom Firm team. The group traveled discreetly, on motorcycles, and in a car.
Once the rescue was underway, everything happened fast. The brothel in question was a shed that housed a few rooms all covered with tin sheets. It was filthy. We found the minor girl we were tracking along with three other sex-workers of indeterminate age and the
brothel keeper, a woman who appeared to be in her mid-forties.
One of the Freedom Firm staff workers sat with the girls in the car on the way back to the police station. She assured the girls that they were safe now and began to build a relationship with them, encouraging them to give correct information to the police on everything that happened to them thus far. Freedom Firm members stayed at the police station to ensure all information was filed correctly. The brothel keeper was sent to a jail cell.
The girls were taken to Stree-Aadhar Kendra girl's shelter home in Chandrapur where they would spend the night. A social worker stayed with them until the next morning so they would not feel abandoned or alone.
The raid was a success: three more girls were freed from sexual slavery. Their rescue
is a triumph but also a reminder of how many other girls are trapped in brothels, awaiting justice.