Mumbai activists expose 'family-run' brothels in Madhya Pradesh village
Two minor girls were rescued in a raid and their parents arrested after Mumbai-based NGO bring issue to light
While the Banchhada community, a nomadic tribe in Neemuch and other tribal hamlets in Madhya Pradesh celebrate the birth of a girl child, it is, time reveals, only to force them into prostitution from a tender age of 10-12 years.
The crime was brought to light when a team of activists from Mumbai initiated an operation along with officers from Kukdeshwar police station in the Neemuch district on June 8 and rescued two minors aged 12 and 13 years from the family-run brothels here.
Shyam Kamble, a resident of Santacruz East, who recently shifted base to Sangli, and had travelled to Neemuch, claimed that the minor girls were paraded in front of him to pick and choose for Rs 5,000.
"Most of the minors, once exploited sexually, finally end up in brothels in major cities of India. Our next challenge is to ensure that the rescued girls are rehabilitated in a safe environment with proper education facilities," Kamble said.
"Almost a week after the raid, the (Madhya Pradesh) Chief Minister's office intervened by responding to our SOS tweet. An FIR was then lodged. It is a common practice in such cases where invariably the minors, once rescued, are returned to their parents and the never-ending, vicious cycle of 'rescue and return' continues," Dr. Abraham Mathai, former vice chairman of the Minorities Commission said.
Dr. Mathai, who runs Harmony Foundation which works in the field of human trafficking, coordinated the entire rescue operation. Activist Akash Chauhan, a law student, who also runs a voluntary organisation, Nai Abha, said that the cops had also managed to get the parents of the minor girls arrested. The girls are currently lodged in a shelter home in Neemuch, under the supervision of the NGO.
Superintendent of Police Rakesh Sagar of Neemuch said that the entire situation was a cause of concern and that the problem was deeper than it appears. "Majority of the menfolk of the community (approximately 15,000 people) and spread across nearly 35 villages, do not work. The women depend on the next generation of daughters in their old age and hence agree to push them into the flesh trade," he explained.
When an FIR is filed, the family has to incur additional costs of fighting the case in court, which "adds to their financial burden and in turn leads to more prostitution." Sagar added, "It is therefore important to have long-term schemes where every girl child gets educated and empowered to lead a life of dignity."
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