Right outside the Kamla Market police post on Shraddhanand Marg is a board which displays photographs of women who are missing. They are mostly young girls for whom the police of various States have ostensibly been searching.
The road, infamous as the red light area of Delhi, is pockmarked with buildings which house brothels where many such girls land up. However, hardly ever has a real effort been made to search for them and set them free. Hundreds of girls live there in abhorrent and inhuman conditions, only to be forced to entertain dozens of customers each day. They remain the main source of revenue for their malik , malkin and pimps and are treated no better than pieces of flesh.
‘No one found’
“It is the police from other States which normally provides us with the photographs of the girls who have gone missing and who they suspect could have landed up in the brothels here,” said a beat constable at the post. “But I don’t recall any of these girls ever being found through these photographs, as no one comes to see them.”
The cop insisted that in the years he has been in the area he has only seen subservience from the sex workers towards the kotha owners. “They seldom speak up against them. The main problem the police face here is from the customers, who mostly come drunk, and the pimps as they often pick fights.”
In fact, just last year a beat constable, Vijender, was knifed to death in the area by some customers when he tried to prevent them from attacking a person. As a precaution now, when the constables step out for patrolling duty around G.B. Road they mostly do so in pairs or in groups.
The policeman said the girls rarely complain about being held captive.“It is the NGOs who normally come up with the complaints and then raids are conducted. During raids, we do not face any problem from the brothel owners.”
While the flesh trade taking place in the area is well-known, the Delhi Police confines itself to mere maintenance of law and order and does not interfere in the functioning of the kothas . But while the kotha owners appear to have bought peace with the police, the fact that only about 2,600 of the nearly 3,500 sex workers in the area are registered with health workers speaks volumes about how these women are kept confined and away from the eyes of the law.