On August 22nd, in Uttar Pradesh, Freedom Firm rescued fifteen year old Sneha*, a girl trafficked from her hometown in Rajasthan. During the raid, the police arrested three customers and a brothel keeper and charged them with trafficking minors, kidnapping, sexual assault, keeping a brothel and living on the earnings of prostitution. No home investigation was required since Sneha was from the Bedia community, a community known for selling their daughters into sexual slavery.
In the past, police have accompanied the rescued girls to process their case in the district court. Due to the district court’s heavy caseload and desensitization towards sex trafficking, the judge permitted the perpetrators to get custody of the rescued girls. This case is a landmark decision for the state of Uttar Pradesh because the police sent Sneha to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) for her case to be heard, instead of the district court. After reviewing Sneha’s case, the CWC referred Sneha to a government remand home.
The change in the police’s usual course of action was due to Jyothi, Freedom Firm Associate Director of Uttar Pradesh region. While Sneha’s rescue was being planned, Jyothi met with the Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee. She asked for his intervention in processing Sneha’s case if the police and Freedom Firm were successful in rescuing Sneha, and he complied. On August 29th, Sneha’s grandmother applied for custody at the district court. The judge granted her permission to visit her granddaughter. The CWC chairperson informed Jyothi about this development and also called the district magistrate to inform him that the CWC would be following up on Sneha’s case as she was a minor. Freedom Firm social workers quickly got into action and submitted a report to the CWC stating that if Sneha was released she would be re-trafficked immediately because she belongs to the Bedia community. They requested the CWC to issue a detention order that would ensure Sneha remained in the remand home till she became a major. Freedom Firm staff will continue to monitor Sneha closely for the next three years and will intervene if necessary to try to prevent any premature release. Social workers are visiting her now and providing counseling, care, and love that she needs to rebuild her life.
*Name changed to protect identity