At least 15 per cent of commercial sex establishments in Mumbai city provide minors for sex trade, with Panvel and Borivali two hotspots that have maximum teens abused and trafficked in sex trade. The latest findings come in a detailed report published by the Maharashtra State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and International Justice Mission (IJM).
Across Mumbai, Thane, Virar, and Navi Mumbai, 1,162 brothels, 218 ladies bars, 19 silent bars and 10,082 sex workers were surveyed. The report, accessed by The Indian Express, showed that maximum minors were channeled from Delhi, Rajasthan and West Bengal. The prevalence of minors is 5.5 per cent of total sex workers in Mumbai with most belonging to age bracket 15-17 years and about 71 per cent from Bedia community, a tribe dominant in Bihar and Jharkhand.
The report found that an estimated one lakh women serve six customers a day in sex trade, generating estimated revenue at $400 million (Rs 2,550 crore) a year in Mumbai. Of 214 sex workers interviewed in privately-networked sex trade, the report found at least 25 were minors sold for sex slavery. These minors were mostly sent for sex trade in private lodges in Thane rural, Mira Road and Navi Mumbai. While they generated revenue of Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per customer for their agents, they received minimal tips.
“One big revelation in nine months of this study is the flourishing private network for sex trade, its high profiteering and its criminal nature. They use social media, WhatsApp and websites to connect agents with clients which is hard for police to crack,” said Sanjay Macwan, Regional director in India, IJM.
The Study mapped Andheri, Turbhe, Dombivali, Thane, Mira-Bhayander, Bhandup, Chembur, Bhiwandi, Ulhasnagar, Nerul, Vashi and Kamathipura amongst 15 hotspots. Grant Road had maximum brothels, bars and lodges for sex trade (445), followed by Bhiwandi (389).
Panvel has maximum minors employed in sex trade (18.7 per cent of sex workers) followed by Borivali (12.5 per cent). These minors are commonly employed over weekdays, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with agents usually anticipating when police would come on routine rounds and hiding minors. “The history of police action in city has reduced crime within city, but in city periphery, lodges and silent bars are higher and increasing,” Macwan said.
A detailed analysis of commercial sex workers showed that in 36.5 per cent cases, poverty forced the woman to enter sex trade. In 30. 8 per cent cases, the death of one parent or both forced them to enter the trade. In 13.5 per cent cases, however, the sex workers were deceived or forced into the business.
“We are generating awareness on sex trafficking. In most cases, vulnerable women are lured with the promise of a good job. Their rescue and rehabilitation is an important aspect, and we are also training police on it,” said Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson of Maharashtra State Commission for Women.
The researchers interviewed at least 15 survivors of sex trafficking of which 13 said they were beaten with brooms, sticks, shoes or bare hands. They were given “medications and injections to make them more compliant, for birth control measures or to make them fatter”, the report observed.
The report has made six recommendations to the state government – advanced investigation training to police to infiltrate private-network in sex trade that are increasingly using minors for sex slavery is the most important recommendation. The report also stressed on the use of internet and technology in connecting agents with customers in which police force lacks needed skills. “The government should institutionalise inter-state collaboration to effectively end sexual exploitation of minors,” another recommendation said.
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