HIV scare fuels desire for minors

The DB Marg police just skimmed the huge racket in trafficking minors when they rescued three girls, aged 14, 16 and 17, from a brothel in Grant Road on March 27.

The police said minors are in great demand in the flesh trade because many “customers” think girls are free of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Dayanand Kamath, for DNA.

Most girls are brought from economically backward states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand and countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, with the promise of a job,  the police said.

The 14-year-old girl, who belonged to Kolkata, was brought to Mumbai on March 15 by her villager, Rizaul, on the pretext of getting her employed as a maid.

He sold her for Rs20,000 to Jaya Gauda, who ran the brothel at Krishna Building at Pavwala Street. The girl spent two weeks there before being rescued by the police in a raid. Subsequently, Gauda was arrested.

The girl said she had initially refused to entertain customers. Angered by her behaviour, Gauda had locked her up in a tiny room without food for a couple of days. At times, Gauda’s goons used to beat her up and also rape her, she said.

She caved in, and she was made to take 18 to 20 customers a day for Rs100 per customer.

The 16-year-old girl from Guru Nanak Nagar  in Bihar and the 17-year-old from Kishan Nagar in Kolkata were also promised jobs in Mumbai but were sold to Gauda for Rs18,000 and Rs15,000, respectively.

Jaya Gauda, 40, and Mumtaz Dastagir Mulla, 40, the manager, have been arrested. “Three pimps have also been arrested,” inspector Anil Sardal of the DB Marg police station said.

According to officials in the social services branch of the Mumbai police, brothels pay a premium for minors because “customers” believe that minors are not infected with HIV or other STDs.

Also, minors rarely make any attempt to escape from a brothel fearing punishment.

“We have formed a Juvenile Aid Police Unit (JAPU) with specially trained officers and lady staff to look for runaway and abandoned girls at bus stops, railway platforms and other places,” deputy commissioner of police (Enforcement) Sanjay Mohite said.

(Names of the minors rescued have been  withheld to protect their identities)

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