WHEN A distraught, 20-something woman came running for help on Thursday afternoon, the constable at the busy Kala Mahal market thought it was another case of chain-snatching or eve-teasing. It was not. The woman said she had been bought and sold many times over the past one year and was running away from her recent customer — one Mohammed Salim.
At the police station, as she told her story, the police were getting an account of human trafficking and forced prostitution in Uttar Pradesh. The woman from Adampur, Bihar, was living in Delhi after her marriage. Last year, her maternal uncle came to take her back to the village. They did not reach Adampur; on the way she was sold to one Anwar in Gorakhpur. After sexually assaulting her for days, Anwar allegedly sold her in Allahabad. Then she was handed over to Basanti, who reportedly runs a brothel at Kashmiri Bazaar in Agra.
The woman was abused for weeks. Till Mohammed Salim came to the brothel asking Basanti to return the money she owed her. Since she did not have the money, she handed over to him the new girl she had bought. For the Adampur woman, it was the fourth transfer in a year.
At Salim's house, his wife finally helped her escape. The police have arrested Basanti and Salim and cases have been registered against the people named by the Adampur woman.