A girl escaped from a brothel in central Kolkata’s Sonagachhi a fortnight ago and managed to reach her home in Nepal.
Her input led to a police raid on Thursday night, in which her sister, also a minor and lodged in the same brothel, was rescued.
The two girls were trafficked from Nepal in 2019. They used to live in Makwanpur district in southern Nepal.
“The girls spent one year in Silchar, Assam and another year in Delhi before landing in Sonagachhi,” said a member of an NGO that was part of the efforts to trace and rescue the elder sister, aged a little over 15 years now.
“The younger sister managed to escape from the brothel two weeks ago. She is a very smart girl. She had some money on her, which she used to reach home in Nepal,” she said.
The girl shared the plight of herself and her sister and a local NGO called Maiti Nepal got in touch with her. She shared details about her sister’s location.
Maiti Nepal then got in touch with an organisation in Delhi, Mission Rescue Operation, which in turn contacted Goranbose Gram Bikas Kendra in south Bengal.
On Thursday evening, a team from the anti-human trafficking unit of Lalbazar and members of Goranbose Gram Bikas Kendra went to the red-light district.
Posed in civvies, they went to the brothel. But the owner and operators were tipped off and had fled before the arrival of the police team.
“We found the girl. She was in a state of shock and could not recognise the policeman who were in civil clothes,” said a member of Goranbose Gram Bikas Kendra, who was part of the raid.
The police and rights activists found it very challenging to win the girl’s trust.
A voice message from the girl’s mother in Nepal eventually did the trick.
The girl was taken for a medical check-up and then to a shelter home.
Members of the anti-human trafficking unit in Lalbazar refused to speak on the matter.
“Yes, We have rescued the girl. A case has also been started,” said a senior officer of Lalbazar.
Sonagachhi, billed as a biggest red-light district in Asia, houses around 10,000 sex workers.
The Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, an association of sex workers, does not allow girls below 18 to be engaged in prostitution.
“The number of minor sex workers has come down drastically in Songachhi. But it has not become zero. Some brothels still engage them on the sly. “ said a rights activist in Kolkata.
“The Nepal consulate in Kolkata will write a letter to the concerned Child Welfare Committee, asking them to hand over the girl to us for repatriating her back to Nepal,” said the representative of Mission Rescue Operation.