On September 13th, 2019 local police authorities coordinated with JVI and one of its local partners to conduct a rescue intervention in Purnea (a district in northeastern Bihar, India) in which 11 female victims of sex trafficking were rescued. Of those rescued, 8 were identified as minors, one reportedly as young as 14 years old.
During the intervention, police officials raided 11 brothels in the Purnea red-light area. They arrested a total of 16 accused (13 were brothel owners, managers, and traffickers and 3 were customers). The brothels were made of flimsy tin shed rooms bolstered by bamboo sticks. Behind the brothel rooms were houses where the perpetrators resided.
Police officials seized evidence such as identification cards, large amounts of cash and cell phones which will be used during the investigation and prosecution of the case.
Following the rescue operation, the victims and the accused were taken to the nearby police station where a formal police complaint (FIR – First Information Report) was lodged against the perpetrators under applicable sections of Indian law including the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
According to the survivor statements recorded in the FIR, the brothel managers/owners physically abused the victims and kept them under harsh living conditions. They were threatened to be hung and were denied food if they refused to sexually engage with customers. They stated they were confined to the brothel premises and were sexually assaulted by the brothel managers and owners themselves.
Reporters from various media outlets gathered at the police station to receive information on the rescue. JVI rescue team members addressed the media highlighting the importance of perpetrator accountability which includes arresting customers who contribute to the demand and supply of trafficking of persons for commercial sexual exploitation.