A 45-year-old woman from Malwani, Malad, has been arrested for attempting to traffic her minor daughter by selling her for Rs 50,000 a night, said officers of Mumbai police’s Social Service Branch.
Cops rescued the girl along with another woman in an undercover operation late Thursday night. In her statement, the mother said she was forced to sell her daughter, as she was unable to pay the house rent due to unemployment.
According to the Social Service (SS) Branch officers, an NGO informed them that two women are selling virgin girls on demand.
With the help of the NGO, we sent a decoy posing as a customer to verify the information. They [accused] organised a meeting at a restaurant in Malad,” said an inspector from the SS Branch.
He added, “During the meeting, they fixed the rate of one minor girl, 17, and a 24-year-old woman. Customers were supposed to pay Rs 50,000-Rs 65,000 for the minor and Rs 15,000 for the woman.”
SS Branch officer said the accused contacted their decoy over WhatsApp, in which the pimps explained that both the girl and the young woman were ready for intercourse, but they have to manage with the minor, as she is a virgin. “As decided, both the victims were taken to a place where officers posing as customers were waiting for them. As soon as the victims arrived, the officers nabbed both the pimps, both women, and rescued the victims,” the inspector said.
However, they had to release the pimps as women cannot be arrested after sundown. Police arrested them on Thursday and booked them under various Sections of the IPC, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Juvenile Justice Act. It was during the interrogation that the police learnt that one of the pimps was the minor victim’s mother. She told them that she was selling her, so that she can pay rent of her house. “Customers have been demanding virgins and minor girls, and hence the pimps have been making arrangements, especially from the slum areas, where poor people are in dire need of money. But, this case shocked us, as the mother was selling her own minor daughter,” another officer privy to the investigation said.
Police are now verifying if the mother has any past criminal records. “So far, we have not found any criminal records, but information suggests that they have been doing this business in their area for a while. Also, when the minor was taken to customers she was totally unaware of what was happening,” the officer added. The teenager had just cleared her HSC board exam.
The SS Branch believes that due to the COVID-19 lockdowns due to COVID-19 pandemic and unemployment, the trafficking business is mushrooming, especially in the slums and poor and minors girls, particularly virgins are lured or forced into it.
According to the official data of SS Branch, police have so far rescued 58 victims, including 14 minors in 21 incidents, and most of these were reported from slum pockets of the city. Last year, around 54 victims were rescued and eight were minors. In most of these cases, police have found that pimps sell virgins for Rs 50,000-Rs 60,000 per night.