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Muffled screams: Actual reports supplied to the State Department

Issue: "Global shame," June 15, 2002

Does the State Department assign countries to their tiers based strictly on evidence of forced prostitution, or do outside diplomatic pressures affect the rankings?

U.S. law says that offending countries must be making real progress against sex trafficking in order to win a Tier 1 or 2 ranking. Advocates for trafficking victims say that should be interpreted to mean that police are cooperating with efforts to rescue sexual slaves, are not shielding brothel owners, and are prosecuting the pimps of child prostitutes, in accord with local laws.

So, how are some of the worst offenders doing on those counts? WORLD obtained hundreds of pages of actual reports submitted to the State Department by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working to combat sex trafficking around the globe. Each case is meticulously documented with dates, times, street addresses, names of officials, and names of victims. In many cases, there are also actual photos of the victim and her pimp or madam. What follows are excerpts of verbatim transcripts of those reports; only identifying information has been changed to protect the NGOs, which often do their work undercover.

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Jan. 22, 2002
22:00-03:00 hours
Mumbai, India

NGO representatives went to Khetwadi (red-light area) and were surprised to see the whole area closed down. There were a few policemen in uniform who did not allow any prostitutes on the streets and were telling them of a possible raid. Members of the NGO undercover team were told by the police to leave the area because there would be a raid.... During the raid, NGO advocate Malashri overheard constable Prassed saying to a brothel keeper, "We warned you there would be a raid. Why didn't you take precautions?"
Victim name: T
Age: 13-14
Nature of abuse: Forced prostitution

Oct. 29, 2001
9:20 hours
Mumbai, India

Despite a pre-arranged raid to rescue girls forced into prostitution in Sonapur red-light area, Senior Inspector Gangwal refused to conduct the raid. Assistant Constable Chauhan, who agreed to do the raid when spoken to on Oct. 24 also refused to authorize the raid. He admitted that he had given his word but stated that he "would not keep his word."
Victims: K, K, and A
Ages: approximately 15
Nature of abuse: Forced prostitution

Feb. 22, 2002
23:00 hours
Mumbai, India

A successful raid was conducted by the police and the NGO. One girl was rescued from a brothel on Navalkar Lane. The NGO lodged a First Information Report (FIR) [and] requested the assistant police inspector to charge the accused with sections 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 of the Immoral Traffic Act and sections of the Indian Penal Code. API refused in the same way that he did during the prior raids on 12-11-01 and 01- 11-02.... As a result of this refusal to enforce legislation, the accused was released the day after arrest. Age verification tests by the police subsequently proved the victims were minors.

April 27, 2002

It is imperative that we are proactive in this case to secure the arrest of the owner of the brothel. The police refuse to arrest her ... From one interview with a victim we have learned the following: Three weeks ago she was tricked by the owner to go with her from Burma to Thailand. On her first night, a Chinese customer paid 30,000 baht to rape a virgin. When the victim screamed in pain, the owner came in and put tape over her mouth and head to muffle the screams until the customer finished.... So confident is [the owner] that she will not be called into account, she slept in the brothel after we raided it and left the next morning before we raided it again.

Name in Thai: D
Nationality: Burmese
Date of birth: 1988

One day during school break a woman named M told her mom that during school holidays she should let her daughter, D, go to work in Thailand. M also told her mom that D would work in a noodle shop and that the owner would help D get a Thai ID card. Upon agreement to take D to work in Thailand, M took D and another girl named T to J, who is the brothel owner. M received about 6,000 baht from J for each girl. J arranged for one man to drive the two girls from Mae Sai to Bangkok. D said she knew that this man who took them to Bangkok is a police officer because he wore pants the same color as other Thai police and a white T- shirt which had a red stripe and police symbol.... At the checkpoint this man showed two fingers to the police and they let him pass through without stopping. This man handed them to the owner and received 3,000 baht for delivery of the two girls. D said since she arrived, she was forced to work at a brothel and received 3-7 customers a day. During Songdran festival, she had to receive up to 12 men. Worked from 4 p.m. till 5 a.m. and never got paid.


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