Police get help from NGOs in cracking down on prostitution | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Police get help from NGOs in cracking down on prostitution

Three weeks ago, a tip-off from a long-term, trusted associate helped the VP Road police rescue 15 women from a brothel on Falkland Road. The associate in question was a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

mumbai Updated: Jun 13, 2011 00:49 IST
Surabhi Vaya

Three weeks ago, a tip-off from a long-term, trusted associate helped the VP Road police rescue 15 women from a brothel on Falkland Road. The associate in question was a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The Mumbai police's efforts to crack down on brothels and flesh trade has found support from NGOs, who are now playing a crucial role in these rescue operations. These NGOs also counsel and help rehabilitate victims who have suffered prolonged abuse."Though we don't have a formal set-up with the NGOs, they have helped plug several loopholes in the system," said Nawal Bajaj, additional commissioner of police (South Region).

"Victims would often turn hostile during the trial. They would tell us that they were worried about retribution from brothel owners if they were released, because of which the conviction rate was very low. Now that they get immediate legal aid, often through NGOs, victims are not afraid to testify or come to us," said an officer from VP Road police station, requesting anonymity

These NGOs work closely with several police stations in South Region, Thane and the social service branch. One such NGO, International Justice Mission (IJM), has been working with the police for the last 11 years. "When we understood the legalities surrounding the issue, we approached the police,"said Michelle Mendonca, an advocate working with IJM.

Another city-based NGO, Oasis, has been working with the police for the last five years. "Our volunteers scout railway stations to make sure that no girls are being trafficked. We then pass on information to the police," said Aaboo Varghese, who heads the Anti-Human Trafficking wing of Oasis. The police conduct raids based on this information. "We have successfully rescued several women this way," said an officer from VP Road police station on the condition of anonymity.

Justice and Care, another city-based NGO, has been working with the police for the last three years. The NGO documents rescue operations, identifies patterns of trafficking and shares this information with the police. "We ensure that we function under the leadership of the police and pass on as much information as we can," said Ranjeet Chouguley, legal counsel for Justice and Care.

"Our aim is to tackle the problem from its root by rescuing minors from prostitution. This collaboration has aided our fight," said Bajaj.