Sunday, August 27, 2006

Police crack down on prostitution in Agra

Agra - More and more girls, some still infants, are being groomed to become prostitutes in the Taj Mahal city of Agra. But the police are determined to end it all.
The innocent girls, brought here from other parts of northern India, are being allegedly injected hormones to induce puberty. Some are being registered in schools with names of strangers as their mothers.
Agra Police freed about 20 girls, aged between 2 and 15, following half a dozen raids this month at the Basai red light zone, barely a stone’s throw from the majestic Taj, one of the world’s leading tourist attractions.
Only recently three girls were rescued from the house of a middleman engaged in women trafficking. Police say they were to be sold to ‘contacts’ in Mumbai.
In another raid, three girls, including a two-year-old, were freed. Five women and nine men were held on charges of trapping them in the flesh trade.
The police also rescued several girls from areas such as Mal ka Bazar, Kashmiri Bazar, Seo ka Bazar, Sir ki Mandi and Sikandra.
Apart from the ‘kothas’ (traditional prostitution joints), some up-market residential colonies like Shahid Nagar, Gulmohar Enclave and Awas Vikas Nigam were also searched.
All this is part of an ‘all-out war’ Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Juneja has launched against prostitution in Agra, which attracts thousands of Indian and foreign tourists every day.
NGOs and women’s groups have expressed concern over reports of young girls being injected with hormones to induce puberty.
‘Hormone injections can lead to many health problems including cervical cancer,’ Netra Pal Singh, counsellor at the All India Women’s Conference, told IANS.
Medical tests conducted on girls freed from the clutches of women who claimed to be their mothers revealed that they were not blood related.
One such woman, Reshma, claimed that the girls taken from her custody were her daughters. The police got her examined at the Government Women’s Hospital here where a doctor, Neeta Kulshrshtra, ruled that Reshma had never given birth to any child.
The girls had been tutored to say that Reshma was their mother.
Another woman from the Shahidnagar area also claimed that the girl she was living with was her daughter. A DNA test confirmed she was not.
The police have vowed to continue their crackdown on Agra’s booming flesh trade.
Said Rajesh Dwivedi, the officer who heads the Taj Ganj police station close to the marble monument: ‘We will step up our drive against prostitution.’


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