Thane: Woman's pregnancy blows lid off prostitution racket in rehab centre

Woman claims the child is her husband’s, who, authorities say, hasn’t visited her since 2013; local police admit they knew about prostitution racket but claim they can’t do anything about it

In some cases, even ‘shocking’ is an understatement. A 23-year-old woman’s pregnancy has blown the lid off a prostitution racket allegedly being run in an Ulhasnagar rehabilitation centre, which is supposed to be a safe home for women rescued from prostitution across Thane. What’s worse, the local police admit that they know about the racket but claim they can’t do anything about it.

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The centre, Shantisadan, in Camp No 5, Ulhasnagar. Pic/Navneet Barhate
The centre, Shantisadan, in Camp No 5, Ulhasnagar. Pic/Navneet Barhate

No men allowed
The 23-year-old, who is from Bangladesh and was forced into prostitution by her uncle and then her husband, was rescued from a red light area in Bhiwandi in 2013 and sent, on the orders of a court, to Shantisadan in Camp Number 5, Ulhasnagar.

The government-run centre, which is meant for homeless and destitute women, also serves as an orphanage and no men, except for those who may be working at the centre, are allowed in. After the woman exhibited signs of pregnancy, she was taken for a medical check-up by the shelter’s authorities.

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They were left flummoxed when the report, which they received earlier this week, confirmed that she had been pregnant for over 42 days. What has surprised the management even more is the woman’s claim that the child is her husband’s. The woman has been at the centre since 2013 and officials told mid-day that her husband has never visited her since then.

Shrugging off
When the shelter’s management approached the Hill Line police to conduct an investigation yesterday, their request was turned down and they were allegedly asked to “settle the matter” amongst themselves. Senior police inspector Dhananjay Dhopavkar of Hill Line police station said, “What can we do? This centre has no security.

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The women living there have been freely moving in and out of the place. The woman in this case has claimed she willingly made physical contact with her husband.” Dhopavkar added that the centre has been allowing sex workers to continue engaging in prostitution while living there.

Long journey
The woman, who was an orphan, was sold to an agent in Kolhapur by her uncle as he could not afford to take care of her. She was forced into prostitution and later met a man who promised her a better future.

She got married to him but was forced into the sex trade by him as well. She was rescued from a red light area in Bhiwandi on September 18, 2013, and sent to the centre in Ulhasnagar on court orders. She has been staying there since then.

The other side
Nanda Gargunde, superintendent of the rehabilitation centre, dismissed the allegations and added the police had not been approached for any investigation.

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