Why does the Delhi Police dither when it comes to taking action against those involved in trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls at the brothels in the heart of the city on Shraddhanand Marg? The police claim that they are caught in a Catch-22 situation because of the “unclear policy on management and supervision” of brothels.
“People often make casual accusations of us taking bribes from brothels to allow the murky business to run unhindered. Concerned over the rampant sexual abuse of minor girls, when we recently initiated a discussion on cracking down on these brothels, we were told about an unpleasant experience the Crime Branch personnel were once faced with when they dared to take harsh measures. The move was opposed from all quarters and the unit had to beat a hasty retreat. It has been business as usual on Shraddhanand Marg since then. However, whenever we receive credible information on any girl being kept in confinement, we conduct raids and rescue them in coordination with non-government organisations,” said a senior police officer.
The officer said there was no clear instruction on how to deal with the flesh trade flourishing in these brothels.
“Flesh trade is not legalised in India and therefore, the brothels are being run illegally. Whenever the matter reaches the court, the brothel owners take the plea that they are in the business of singing, dancing and organising mujra ,” said lawyer Ravi Kant.
This year so far, the police have rescued 26 women. “Among them, those who were above 18 years of age said they were in the flesh trade on their own volition and hence, the courts concerned sent them to Nari Niketan. With respect to minors, we have registered six cases. Also, we have been actively assisting our counterparts in other States in rescuing the girls trafficked from different parts of the country. Since in such cases the First Information Reports are registered at places from where the minors are kidnapped, we now have anti-human trafficking units which also operate in close coordination with the police in other States,” said another officer.
Having detected instances of forced sexual exploitation of minors and women in 12 brothels, the Central Delhi Police had earlier recommended their closure to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate concerned. “Once the necessary orders were issued, the brothel owners appealed in court and the matter is hanging fire. This year, we have recommended the closure of three brothels for the same reason,” said the officer.
Ownerships of brothels are also being ascertained to ensure that legal action can be initiated against them in cases of human trafficking and sexual abuse of minors.