Sex worker rescued from GB Road ‘kotha’ says govt-funded NGO for kids charged her ‘illegal maintenance fee’
“I did the sex work for nine months from September 2021 until May 2022 for the upkeep of my child.” The complainant has said.
New Delhi: A woman from West Bengal, who was recently rescued from prostitution at one of the infamous ‘kothas’ or brothels on the Garstin Bastion (GB) Road, has alleged that the government–funded care home, where her 3-year-old son was lodged while she worked, charged her ‘maintenance fee’ at the rate of Rs2,000-a-month.
The woman complainant was allegedly trafficked from West Bengal by her boyfriend Nurul Hasan, whom she had eloped with, and who later sold her to a pimp for Rs10,000. Hasan since has been arrested by West Bengal police.
The alleged trafficker took her to GB Road’s Brothel Number 56 popularly known as ‘Maayka’, where she was forced into prostitution. “The madam at Maayka, named Babita, forced me to admit my child in the centre run by Society for Participatory Development (SPID) for his care and protection. I was told that all women working in the brothel keep their children there,” victim wrote in her complaint to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Delhi.
Thenceforth, the ‘master ji’ of the centre had come every month to collect Rs2000 as ‘maintenance fee’. “The ‘master ji’ came to me and asked about the ‘maintenance fee’; I called Babita who gave him Rs2000 along with food and clothes,” she alleged.
“I did the sex work for nine months from September 2021 until May 2022 for the upkeep of my child,” complainant has said.
The victim told Firstpost she realised SPID care centre kept children for free only after escaping from the GB Road brothel. “As I came back to reclaim my son’s custody with police, SPID administration told me that they will only turn the child to me after Child Welfare Committee issues an order. After this I went to CWC where I was told that the centre is not allowed to take any money from me or any other woman,” she said.
The woman told Firstpost that she never got the proceedings of the sex work she did. “Babita kept all my money, she paid ‘master ji’ seven times in the nine months I stayed there,” she said.
“Babita had doubts that I will run away that is why she made me keep my son in the care home and never gave me the money came from sex work,” she added.
Roop Sudesh Vimal, an expert in Juvenile Justice Act and member of the CWC, told Firstpost, “They (SPID officials) are authorised to get monthly grant of Rs2000 per head for keeping upto 25 children and if the number increases they are allowed to get donations from other NGOs as well. However, taking money from the victim is not encouraged at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, Virendra Singh, director of Mission Mukti foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the cause of rescuing hapless women and minors in association with NCPCR and who was instrumental in tracing the child and his rescue by the police, told Firstpost that CWC could have helped the family of the woman locate her and the child if they had followed due course of investigation required to admit a child.
“As we went to CWC to get the custody of the child, we found that the CWC officials were at fault too, they are supposed to prepare a Social Investigation Report (S.I.R) and Home Investigation Report (H.I.R) right after admitting any child in order to categorise the child into either sexually exploited, orphan or incapacitated parents,” he said.
If the CWC officials had done the investigation, they would have easily found that the woman was trafficked, Singh added.
When asked about the procedures, Vimal said the CWC officials are bound to have both S.I.R and H.I.R of the children under section 31 of the Juvenile Justice Act. “There is no fixed duration of carrying out both the investigations but it is indeed mandatory to keep the record of every child,” he said, adding the matter should be investigated for vested interests.
When contacted for a comment, Lalitha S, vice-president of SPID, denied the allegations of taking money, saying that her outfit does not promote prostitution, instead works for the basic rights of sex workers. “Some people are trying to malign the image of our NGO, we have been working in this field since 30 years and have got many badges of excellence on us,” she said. The complainant had her Aadhar card on basis of which SPID had kept her child and that too after informing the CWC, she added.
The victim was rescued from the brothel after she texted her whereabouts and a selfie from one of her client’s phone to her brother in January, 2021.
Later a complaint was filed by the brother following which the woman was located in the brothel no 56. However, she was not found there when police raided the brothel.
Instead she was found in her hometown where she told the police that the pimp kept her confined at the time of raid and later they made her board a train back to her hometown to sort things out with the police. “They told me to come back for the child after getting things sorted with police,” she said, adding that with the help of West Bengal Police and Mission Mukti volunteers she got the custody back on Monday.
However, the pimp and the madam are on the run. Police are making efforts to catch them.
Despite several calls and text messages, CWC chairperson did not respond to Firstpost queries.