As Delhi debated and discussed the issue of women’s rights and safety during the past three months, barely four kilometres from Parliament, the seat of Indian democracy, a 19-year-old girl was kept confined within a small cavity in the walls of a brothel at G.B. Road. During this period she was continuously raped – usually by over a dozen men from morning to night.

But even after she was rescued on Thursday, the Delhi Police did not deem it fit to register a gang-rape case. Rather, it even allowed her rapists, abductors and brothel owners to intimidate her during her court presence. And while her father has come from South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to take his youngest daughter back, she was on Friday sent to Nari Niketan instead.

The tragic tale began this February when the girl was preparing for her Class X Board exams.

Based on the limited conversation that he had with his sister post her rescue, the girl’s brother, who accompanied his father to Delhi, told The Hindu that one evening when she came out of her village house in West Bengal, a drug-laced cloth was pressed against her face which made her unconscious.

“When she came back to her senses, she found herself at the Howrah railway station accompanied by the abductor and few others who told her that they were waiting for a train to Delhi. As she protested, they made her consume some more sedatives and she then regained consciousness only on reaching Delhi,” said Imran (name changed), whose earlier visit to Kotla Mubarakpur and other colonies of Delhi in search of his youngest sister was reported by The Hindu.

Back then, the girl’s brother had contacted NGO Shakti Vahini seeking help.

The same NGO along with the police conducted a raid at the brothel on May 9 and rescued the girl who was found confined in a “cave-like structure” cut into one of the walls.

But the girl’s trauma did not end there. When she was produced before a Duty Magistrate on Friday, the brothel owners were also present in the court room in strength and during the course of hearing, they even showed the gumption to coerce and threaten the girl sitting in the court room to bring her back into the business.

The girl’s father, a man with a white beard, was ready with all the related papers to take his daughter in his custody, but the court said he could get his daughter back only from a regular court.

The girl was then sent to Nari Niketan on technical grounds.

‘Victim of an organised racket’

According to Rishi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini that helped in the girl’s rescue, she was a victim of an organised racket. The gang members abduct teenaged girls and push them into the flesh trade.

The racket involving Delhi’s brothel owners and traffickers in the hinterland functions so professionally that girls are kidnapped and forced into the trade without being detected because the police response is lukewarm to this crime against women.

An example of this apathy is the three-month delay that was witnessed in registering the missing report by the West Bengal Police into the disappearance of the girl.

The State police only fulfilled this mandatory formality after she was rescued here on May 9.

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