In 2011, more girls were rescued by Freedom Firm’s intervention team than in any other year. 57 girls were rescued. Yet, considering the raids and the efforts taken to rescue girls, it was one of the most difficult years. As the rescue work in Pune entered its 5th year, the team quickly realized that minor girls were more difficult to find. Consistent raids, and 8 convictions of brothel keepers guilty of exploiting minor girls, have had a high impact on the region. In one sense, this was encouraging evidence that there were fewer minor girls in prostitution, and Freedom Firm has been effective in its mission. The amount of young minor girls (between ages 11-14) has definitely decreased. At the same time, however, there was a realization that brothel keepers were also being more careful and trafficking minors who look older (ages 15-17) or young majors.
In March, the Interventions team went to rescue a minor girl from the Pune red-light area, but found two major victims Fatima and Namita who were forced into prostitution, and the police were able to rescue them. As they shared their stories in the police station, it became evident just how much has changed in Pune. These victims were tricked and trafficked like many girls, but their initiation into the business revealed a nasty change.
Upon being brought to Pune from West Bengal, they were transported out to a remote jungle where they were abused and threatened. Completely frightened, they were returned to Pune where they entered into prostitution.
Aware of this new angle, the Investigations team works very strategically to search the back rooms of brothels and locate any minors in prostitution. The police have also stepped up their efforts by beginning to close brothels where minors have been found. The battle for freedom and justice continues to intensify, and Freedom Firm continues to enter new territories and new challenges.