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What is it like for a Freedom Firm investigator to be undercover in an Indian brothel?

For 15 days a month, 180 days a year,  he is a customer, posing as someone who buys sex, chatting with girls and women at the entrance of the brothel but cautiously watching the movements of every man, woman, and child in the area. He has done it a thousand times before.

He knows the alleys, the filthy places where the “work” happens. He knows the ‘regulars’ (customers), the brothel keepers, the woman who doesn’t eat because she has had no customers the whole day. He is searching for girls under the age of 18, girls forced into prostitution. While most seasoned prostitutes aggressively solicit customers, he knows he's found a minor when she doesn’t brazenly call out to him to come inside her room. He has trusted informants who tell him when there is a new girl in the area. A minor. A virgin. Untouched. Innocent. High in demand.

He is a familiar face in the red-light area but he is never seen. His true intentions are marred by the ugliness that rears its head over the brothel.  So he waits and watches for the right moment to ‘engage’ with the minor. He watches for customers to come out of the brothel and watches to confirm the various people involved in victimizing a girl.  Some customers are 19-year-old boys in college and some, 65-year-old men. He says a prayer to guard his mind, his thoughts, and his body as he steps inside. He asks the girl questions – Where is she from, how long has she been there? He avoids her approach, he makes up an excuse. "I have a headache today." "I'm not in the mood." "I'm lonely, I just want to get to know you first." (He has a thousand reasons why he just wants to talk.)

He is wearing an undercover camera. It records the whole interaction, keeping the investigator accountable and providing invaluable information to take to the police. He brings the minor’s information to his team and they draw up a plan to rescue her. When she is rescued, his mission is successful. He has removed another girl from the ugliness of prostitution. If she hasn’t been rescued, he goes in again, and once again collects information and shares it with his team. He has investigated 30 red-light areas in Maharashtra. He has learned the tricks of the trade and knows how to employ a different strategy in case the situation quickly changes.

Does he think this practice will end? He says it is challenging as most politicians have a stake in the business. But he is hopeful that when investigators like him go into the brothel, gather information, and get support from police to rescue a girl, there is a disruption in the red-light area. The offenders are alerted and less likely to traffic minors, force them to prostitute, or buy sex. 


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