Wednesday, December 19, 2007

** Pimps on prowl, minors on sale

Nation's shame: Pimps on prowl, minors on sale
Siddhartha Gautam / CNN-IBN

New Delhi: From the dingy alleys of national capital to the bylanes of Kolkata’s red-light district, underage prostitution and child trafficking rackets are thriving and pimps are making a quick buck at the expense of minor girls.

While Delhi is fast gaining the dubious distinction as a hub of underage prostitution racket, the trail begins in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Nepal.
Minor girls are being pimped as "virgins" for huge prices to customers from across India and while the experts say the alarming trend is common to most metro cities, Delhi's reputation seems to have taken the severest beating.

A CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team went undercover, posing as customers, traveled with pimps from Delhi to Kolkata and caught child traffickers putting young minor girls on sale without a care for the law.

The journey began in Delhi.

Delhi: Not a virgin territory
The first girl on offer was Payal (name changed), a underage girl being touted by a pimp called Mukesh at a shop in south Delhi. Mukesh regularly “supplies” underage, virgin girls to customers in Delhi.

Their “going rates” are on his fingertips. Given below is an excerpt from a conversation CNN-IBN had with Mukesh.

Mukesh: Uska bahut mota paisa lagega. (Payal will be very expensive)
CNN-IBN: Kitna lagega? (How much?)

Mukesh: Kam se kam 80-90 hazar rupay lagega. (At least Rs 80,000 to Rs 90,000.)
A week later, Rahul, Mukesh's right hand man got Payal to meet the SIT team again and repeatedly assured that she was a minor.

Rahul: (I assure you she is young, but you should be the only one having intercourse with her, otherwise there’ll be trouble and I will be in trouble.)
CNN-IBN: Khoon nikelaga? (Will she bleed?)

Rahul: Haan. Nahi niklega toh paisey ley jao. Rs 1000 de dena. (Yes. She will. If she does not, you’ll get your money back. Just pay us Rs 1,000 in that case.)
Kolkata: A naked truth emerges

To see how deep the rot ran, the SIT asked Mukesh and Rahul to introduce them to more underage girls in a group.

An excerpt from the conversation:
CNN-IBN: Mujhe 5 ya 6 ek saath dikhao! Ek jagah par dekh saku jahan main. (Show me five or six girls together)

CNN-IBN (Reporter 2 to pimps): Choose karne ke liye bol raha hai bhai. (He wants to choose).
Mukesh: Dekho ye alag-alag hoti hai kahi-kahi jagah par, aur hame dhund ke lana parte hai. (They meet different clients at different places, we need to look for them)

The SIT insisted it needed to see more girls and wanted their pictures as well. Rahul then asked the team to travel with him to Kolkata.

At the New Delhi Railway station, Rahul introduced the undercover team to one Priyanca and a child he claimed was his son.

Rahul even allowed the team to shoot him on a handycam and just before reaching Kolkata, demanded an advance.

Rahul: Main bolta hu Rs 5,000 abhi de ke rakh. Baad ka jo kharcha hoga dekh lenge. (Give me Rs 5,000 right away. We’ll deal with the other expenses later.)

CNN-IBN: Zyada se zyada Rs 3,000 hai. Samjha kar. (I have just Rs 3,000 right now)
Near Kolkata's Sealdah Railway Station, Priyanca said she could help the team film some underage girls.

“Mera baat suno. Dono kaam ek sath karna hai, thik hai? Tum log jaoge, dekhoge, mai razi kar saku usko, thik hai na? Jo paisa bol rahe ho dedunga tumhare samne, lenge toh thik hai aur nahi to mera koi galti nahi hai. Mere baas mai jitna hoga mai karungi aap log ke liye. (Listen to me, both of you work together okay? Whatever money you are speaking of, just offer that. You can film them. I’ll try my best to help you both.)” she said.

Rahul took the team to Sonagachi, India's biggest red-light area, home to over 10,000 sex workers. The group entered a house and were greeted by a man who said he was the owner. The team switched on the handycam and a brutal parade began.

The girls were made to introduce themselves, forced smiles in place. Some of them looked about 16 but many were not even 12 years old.

Most of the underage girls the team met in Kolkata were trafficked from Bihar, Jharkhand and Nepal and were then put on trains to Delhi and forced into flesh trade.

During the investigation, the SIT found there was a huge demand for underage girls in metros like Delhi. According to figures released by Government of India, 53 per cent of India's children are sexually abused at least once. A UN report too claims it's child prostitution is $32-bn industry.

CEO of NGO Naz Foundation, Anjali Gopalan explains the disturbing trend. “Minor girls are being increasingly pushed into the flesh market because many men think they will be safe from being infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,” she says.

That’s not all. With girl children fetching up to Rs 1 lakh, traffickers like Rahul and Mukesh admitted family members were often prepared to push their girls into the flesh trade.
Clearly, it’s the money that drives the perverse virgin prostitute racket, pushing thousands of minor girls into sexual slavery.

(With Ritwik Deo and Manmohan Gupta) url: