50% of brothels in south Mumbai shut down in 2010 | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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50% of brothels in south Mumbai shut down in 2010

Though there had been a rise in murder, extortion and other serious crimes in 2010, the police seem to have managed to curb the menace of flesh trade.

mumbai Updated: Jan 31, 2011 01:45 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

Though there had been a rise in murder, extortion and other serious crimes in 2010, the police seem to have managed to curb the menace of flesh trade.

For the first time in the last decade, more than 50% of brothels in the red-light district of south Mumbai, Kamathipura in particular, were forced to down shutters as sustained efforts were made to crack down on flesh trade. These brothels are also spread across the plush central Mumbai where developers have set their eyes for the next phase of redevelopment.

“We took special initiative in curbing flesh trade as the menace of trafficking of women had become a major concern,” said Deven Bharti, additional commissioner of police, crime.

In 2010, around 370 women, including minors, were rescued, and 303 people arrested. Around 46 brothels were sealed in action — six on the commissioner of police’s order and the rest after the court’s verdict.

Though a record number of brothels had been shut down in 2010, the number of women or minors rescued was the lowest in the last five years.

The setting up of a special court at Mazagaon in 2007 to deal with cases registered under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA) too came as a shot in the arm for the police.

“When this court was set up to exclusively deal with the PITA cases, it resulted in a faster disposal of the cases,” said Arvind Sawant, senior inspector with the Social Service Branch of the Mumbai police, which spearheads action against flesh trade.

The commissioner of police too is empowered to initiate proceedings against brothels. “This is a quasi-judicial proceeding initiated by the commissioner of police,” Bharti said, explaining that the brothel owner is given a hearing before a decision to seal his premises is taken.

If minors are found during a raid and the case results in conviction, the police commissioner has the power to seal the place for three years. “If action persists, they will be forced to shut down for good,” Bharti added.