shield arrow-simple-alt-top arrow-simple-alt-left arrow-simple-alt-right arrow-simple-alt-bottom facebook instagram linkedin medium pinterest rss search-alt shaper twitter video-play arrow-long-right arrow-long-left arrow-long-top arrow-long-bottom arrow-simple-right arrow-simple-left arrow-simple-bottom readio arrow-simple-top speaker-down plus minus cloud hb pin camera globe cart rotate Group-35 star edit arrow-top arrow-right arrow-left arrow-bottom check search Close square speaker-up speaker-mute return play pause love new-tab equalizer

Six Nepali Girls Set Free In Kolkata’s Red-Light Area

Six young women trafficked from Nepal into India were set free from multiple brothels in a single night last week. IJM joined an entire police department and three other NGOs on the complex operation in the city’s largest red-light area.

A dangerous business at the border

This operation came about because the Nepali government wrote a letter late last year urging Indian authorities to address the epidemic of trafficking. There are about 200,000 Nepali girls and women working in Indian brothels, with up to 7,000 more arriving each year, according to the Family Planning Association of Nepal. Many of these are trafficked, either forcefully kidnapped or tricked by false job or marriage offers.

In the first weeks of this year, Kolkata police mobilized their entire detective force of 52 officers and called IJM and three other NGOs to plan a massive operation for January 14.

The massive operation

Police led the force down the city’s convoluted lanes, flanked by ramshackle shops and haggling crowds, to four brothels clustered together. The rescue team split and entered multiple locations simultaneously. Inside each brothel, police and NGO partners went from room to room, searching for underage girls who had been trafficked.

Inside one dingy room piled with garbage, IJM’s Director of Aftercare Pasang Bhutia and police met a Nepali girl who looked quite young. The girl unlocked a small box and showed Bhutia a ration card with the word 'Adult' printed across it. There is no such identifier on government-issued ration cards: it was a fake.

All six trafficking victims had similar fake documents—traffickers and brothel owners often issue these kind of documents to underage girls in case police ever show up.

By this point, the main madam who ran the brothel had fled the scene.

A new chapter begins

During the operation, some of the girls were nervous and resistant, afraid that they were being arrested. This is another common fear tactic traffickers and brothel owners use to deceive victims.

'Some were putting up a strong self, but you can see in their eyes that they’re scared,' Bhutia said. Her team explained what was happening and assured the girls that they were not in trouble, they were being rescued.

Once they had left the red-light area, the girls began to open up to the IJM team. One girl even asked for ice cream. The girls are now in a short-term aftercare shelter; IJM’s caseworkers and government agencies will continue to work with each of the survivors to find the best long-term care.

This operation was unprecedented in many ways. The sheer number of police who mobilized was massive; the planning to enter multiple sites at once complex; and the short amount of time that it all took astonishing. The entire operation was over in two hours.

'It was amazing to see so many departments working together.' said Dolphy Biswas, IJM Government Relations Coordinator. 'Everyone put their best forward for the operation. We’re seeing police take responsibility with initiative and sensitivity.'

Learn more about IJM's work to stop sex trafficking and protect women and children from this crime here

You might also be interested in…

About Stories see more
Twenty Years Enslaved at a Mango Farm – Now Free

Survivor Leaders in the Released Bonded Labourers Association (RBLA) rallied authorities to rescue a couple who had been enslaved at a mango farm for about 20 years. IJM had known about this couple since 2016, but they were always too scared to ever share the truth about their experience, due to the power of the owner.
Joint operation rescues 4 minors, arrests 2 suspects of online sexual exploitation of children

An Aussie police tip-off has led Philippine authorities to rescue 4 young children from cybersex trafficking and arrest their guardians. The 3 girls and 1 boy were aged between 2 and 8. Tragically, they were in the care of a couple who instead of protecting them, offered to livestream their sexual abuse in exchange for money.⠀

Social Media Helps IJM Partner NGO Rescue of 56 from a Brick Kiln

IJM and our casework partner Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan (JBVSS) supported a complicated rescue operation in the state of Haryana. Fifty-six people—including many young children and babies—were brought out of bondage at a brick kiln, aided by the use of social media during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Three Children Free from Child Trafficking in Ghana

During May's lockdown, police and IJM conducted an operation to bring three children, two boys and one girl, to safety from slavery on Lake Volta.

You Can Help Send Rescue Today.

When you give a gift today, you’ll be fighting slavery, violence, and injustice across the globe. Together, we can end slavery and violence in our lifetime.

You can make the most impact as a Freedom Partner today.

Your generous monthly support will help send rescue to vulnerable children and families at a moment’s notice, stand with them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and have perpetrators held accountable.


Donor Portal

Review your giving, tax statements and contact info via the IJM Donor Portal.

please sign in
Email Sign Up
Get updates from IJM on stories from the field, events in your area and opportunities to get involved.
sign up