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Manushi. 1998 Mar-Apr;(105):27-31.

When police act as pimps: glimpses into child prostitution in India.



A random sample of 28 out of 86 brothels along the G. B. Road in India revealed that almost 60% of the prostitutes were children. The law does not punish prostitutes who are older than 18 and do not solicit business publicly, but it does punish running a brothel, living on the earnings of prostitutes, procuring or inducing people to become prostitutes, and soliciting in public places. The law, which is mostly used to harass prostitutes, invokes penalties of imprisonment for procuring or trafficking and for forcible detention for the purpose of prostitution while creating a special police force to stop trafficking, special courts to deal with cases, and protective homes for "rescued" girls. The law fails to punish clients or make provisions for the rehabilitation of rescued women. Offenses rarely end in convictions. In fact, police officers extort money from traffickers, prostitutes, and madams and abet the system of prostitution through a scheme of false registration of the girls that creates the fiction that they are not minors and creates a debt paid by the madams that places the girls in virtual bondage. There is a set rate for police bribes, depending upon the size of the brothel. Police also are clients themselves and/or extort money from clients. When arrests are made (to make police records look good), police deliberately target adult prostitutes instead of the minors because it is harder to get the minors released back into prostitution. The police are reluctant to release records about prostitution and are complicit when madams present false affirmations that they are relatives of minor girls to get them released from juvenile remand homes. The girls are recruited from impoverished families in the countryside who are paid for giving their daughters in false marriages.

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