When Sima* was rescued by Freedom Firm on 16th Feb 2017, she was only 15-16 years old. After her rescue, she was placed in the government shelter home where she complained of extreme pain in her abdomen. She refused to eat and began to get weaker by the day. The shelter home authorities released her to a cousin who produced an affidavit saying that he will take Sima home. She was released, and within a week, our investigators found her in the red-light area. When we searched again, she was not there.
In August, when our social workers followed up on Sima, she was at home and ‘recovering’ from a surgery. It became evident that the surgery was probably a made up story when a week later our investigators again reported seeing her in the red-light area.
In October when Freedom Firm investigators checked the red-light area in Nagpur, they again found Sima in the same brothel where she was rescued previously and Tara*, another minor in the same brothel. The team along with local police conducted a rescue operation on 3rd November. Tara and Sima were rescued! Three brothel keepers were arrested, and a criminal complaint was filed against them under sections of the ITPA (Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act) IPC (Indian Penal Code) and POSCO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act).
The girls are in a government shelter home where they will be counselled and followed up with by Freedom Firm’s aftercare team. Freedom Firm will make every effort to convince the court that it is unsafe to release Sima to her relatives a second time. Unless the magistrate chooses to protect these girls, sometimes from their own family members, there is little hope that Sima will be able to stay out of prostitution.
*Names changed to protect identity