The Delhi Police has taken up cudgels against GB Road and the 23-odd brothels it accommodates, a first-of-its-kind crackdown against the red light district since it was instituted during the Mughal era.
The Delhi Police has invoked the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act to directly target four 'notorious' brothels operating on the infamous Garstin Bastion Road.
Action against more brothels, police say, will follow in a phased manner in coming days.
“The Station House Officer (SHO) of the Kamla Market Police Station, in public interest, has moved the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) to stop four brothels from functioning. This will be the first phase of the project,”
said DC Shrivastava, additional CP (central).
Accordingly, Shrivastava said, notices have been issued to Kotha numbers 42, 56, 59 and 5211 — where recently-conducted raids led to the rescue of dozens of minors allegedly trafficked from southern India, Maharashtra and Nepal. The brothels have been asked to prepare a statement to defend their 'establishments' in court.
However, for the hundred-odd 'workers' of these four brothels, whom Hindustan Times visited and interacted with, the step is in line with several other “measures of harassment” that the authorities, arbitrarily and routinely, subject them to.
“There are more ways in which the system exploits us — through the police, the Income Tax department and NGOs —than our customers do,” said Naazreen (name changed), 32, who claimed to have been working at Kotha number 59 for yje three decades.
"This may look like a brothel to you but happens to be my house. No one has the right to throw me out of my own house."
Others, like Sharmila, 28, (name changed) who said she was from Nepal, questioned why only a couple of brothels such as hers and three others were being singled out to shut shop.
"Why don't they just shut us up in a room like that man in Germany did during the (second) World War and gas us to death?" asked another sex worker at number 56.
Mandira, 22, (name changed), said she was ready to be 'rehabilitated' but was pretty sure that the authorities had no concrete plans to do so.
"What will they do when they 'rescue' us? It's all a charade! They plant informers among us or send men posing as customers to lure our girls away on the pretext of starting a family. They then throw us in dark rooms at Nari Niketans where there's no food, no freedom and no future," she said.
"The idea is to prevent immoral trafficking of minors who are forced into the sex trade," Shrivastava maintained.