Two people, including the mother of a 13-year-old girl, are facing charges from police for attempting to sell her virginity. Police say they have arrested both after a sting operation caught them.
A nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping sex trafficking helped authorities nab the suspects. From a local report:
Police said a team of six crime branch officials raided an apartment in Mumbra, on the outskirts of Thane, at about 8 p.m. Sunday and arrested the 32-year-old mother and a 29-year-old auto rickshaw driver.
The police said they were acting on a tip-off from the Indian Rescue Mission, a Mumbai-based nonprofit founded in 2009 to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked children, sometimes through undercover operations.
An IRM worker told India Real Time that he got into an auto rickshaw on Aug. 18 and asked the driver about dance bars where he could go and “have fun.” The auto driver told him about two bars in the area.
“I immediately knew that he was someone who would have more information for me and I took his contact number,” the 29-year-old social worker said.
The next day, posing as an agent, he telephoned the auto driver demanding a virgin girl for a wealthy client, he said. “A couple of days later, the driver called me to tell me that a 13 or 14 year old girl, he wasn’t sure [of her exact age,] was available for one lakh rupees (100,000 rupees, or $1,550),” he said.
The social worker said he went with the driver on Aug. 23 to an apartment in the six-story building where the young girl, her mother and two other unidentified women were present. The mother initially claimed to be the girl’s aunt, but has since admitted she is her mother, police said.
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“I promised [the driver] that I would bring my client along on Sunday and on the day I took a token amount of 10,000 rupees so that the girl wasn’t sold off to anyone else,” the social worker said.
News of this plan filtered through to Thane’s additional commissioner of police, Milind Bharambhe, after IRM Director James Varghese got in touch with an associate, Abraham Mathai, who knew senior officials in the crime branch. Mr. Mathai is the founder of Harmony Foundation, another nonprofit working in the same field as IRM.
“They [police] raided the apartment and arrested the auto rickshaw driver and the woman who was negotiating the deal,” said the social worker. The young girl was in tears when the raid took place Sunday and seemed completely unaware of the negotiations for her virginity, the social worker said.
Similar cases have received international attention over the years but they usually involve the teenagers themselves, such as this 18-year-old, offering their own virginity for sale. However, with the incidence of sexual trafficking increasing across the globe, more cases like the one in India may surface.