The High Court of Tamil Nadu has given a landmark order directing the lower judiciary and police officials to treat the apprehended prostitutes as victims of trafficking and they should not be penalised and sent to prison.
Instead they have to be sent to rehabilitation/protective homes run either by government or NGOs.
Nepali Minor Girl rescued from flesh trade and reintegrated with her family
Preethi (name changed) is a victim of child sex trafficking and she is from Nepal. She has given her age as 21 and the address as Calcutta which are neither her real age nor her real address. She was asked to say so by the traffickers. The girl is 15 years old who had never went to school. She has a very limited knowledge of many things including name of the places and time. She has both the parents and 2 sisters (one elder and one younger) and 2 brothers (one elder and one younger brother). She belongs to ‘Tamang’ community which is one of the ethnic groups from the high hills east, north, south and west of Kathmandu valley in Nepal.
Preethi was interested to go to school but her grandmother had refused to send her to school in order to take care of the household work. Preethi ran away from home and came to Kathmandu where his brother’s family live due to the urge to escape from the tedious household and allied works. She worked in a rich family for two years sweeping and washing the premises and cleaning vessels in Kathmandu.
She was hopeful the rich lady would pay her something but did not receive any money for her work. ‘Supayee Tamang’ along with two other persons whom she already knew approached Preethi when she was in the search of other employment, who said they would take her to India and find out her a good job. She left the rich lady looking for a better life.
When Preethi got there in Calcutta, Supayee and Maiju engaged her in prostitution. Preethi stayed along with Supayee Tamang and his wife in Calcutta for two months. Along with another girl – Sushmi (name changed) she was later taken by Sailee Maiju and her husband to Tamil Nadu and sold to a brothel. She was there for three months and later rescued along with the other five girls following a raid by the Batlagundu police.
She had been taken to various locations including Kodaikanal (a popular hill resort) to entertain customers. The driver Santhosh takes the girls to various places and Clients also come to Selvi’s (wife of brothel home owner) brothel home. Preethi never got any medical treatment during her stay at the brothel home.
Being the youngest girl she was also physically abused. Preethi felt that she could not return to Nepal anymore and was in despair. The brothel home at Batlagundu also had another three Nepalese girls. Unfortunately Preethi has no clue about where these Nepalese girls were taken. So far, Preethi has not received any money neither from Supayee nor from the present brothel keeper.
The Foundation for Human Rights and Development (FOHRD) filed a case in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court and shifted the victim girl to a rehabilitation home from the Women Sub-jail at Nilakkottai. Hearing the petition, the Hon’ble High Court bench gave a landmark order and held that women/girls apprehended from brothel homes should be treated as victims of trafficking and not as accused.
Disagreeing with the practice of sending them to prisons, the Court directed the police officials and the lower judiciary to send them to NGO run rehabilitation home where action should be taken for their rehabilitation and reintegration, if the victim wish so.
FOHRD has searched her parents who live in a very remote tribal village of Nepal and reunited the girl with her family with the help of ‘Maiti Nepal’ with its headquarters in Katmandu. Supayee Tamang, the traffic racketeer, had also been arrested in Nepal.
We came to know recently that there are six Bangladeshi girls who are victims of trafficking are lodged in the vigilance at Chennai and three girls are lodged at Salem.
Foundation for Human Rights and Development