Most sex rackets uncovered in recent years have presence of women agents

They are smooth-talking, reassuring and matronly. They are now the new baits for sex traps.

Women are increasingly becoming the agents of flesh trade as they lure more of their own gender into sex traps by dangling job offers from abroad.

These agents zero in on women from poor families and dangle the bait of a job offer abroad as a housemaid or a cook. Once they are tricked into flying abroad, racketeers abuse and force women into prostitution.

The latest of such case to come to light is that of a 24-year-old woman, daughter of labourers from Kochi. It was a female acquaintance who offered to get the woman a job as a housemaid in Singapore. Such an offer from an older, familiar woman did not strike the victim or her parents as odd. It was only when she reached Geylang, a red light area in Singapore, that she realised she had been tricked. The police arrested 58-year-old Jagadamma, believed to be the main agent of the racket, from Aluva on Thursday.

Investigation into other sex rackets has shown that agents cultivate friendship for more than a month before offering a job. This ensures that the victims do not suspect a plot.

A victim of a sex racket, believed to be run by Lissy Sojan, said she had been approached by a woman who used to frequent the shop in Kattappana where she had been working. “I saw her every day on her way to a nearby Anganawadi to drop her child there. We used to talk to each other too. After a few months, she said she could get me a job as a maid in Dubai,” she said.

The racket was discovered when a 19-year-old woman from Thiruvananthapuram was held at the Mumbai airport for travelling without the necessary papers. She said in her statement to the police that an agent of Lissy Sojan, named Santha, had offered her a job as a housemaid in the Gulf with a salary of Rs.25,000 a month. Santha had been living on rent next to her house for six months before she made the offer, the victim said. She alleged that Sojan and her associates kept her in flats, where she was visited by at least 150 men, many of whom raped her.

The agents are an important link in sex rackets. They ensure a steady stream of women from impoverished families.

The victim from Kattappana said Sojan had her agents in many parts of the country, and also in countries like Sri Lanka and Philippines. “Most of these agents are women who have returned home after working as prostitutes with Lissy,” she said.

The social stigma that surrounds victims of sex rackets ensures that those who return do not inform the police.

Another factor keeping the rackets alive and running is the collusion of airport officials, in India and abroad. Some officials are actively involved in the racket, while others keep it going by turning a blind eye to illegal activities.

The legal hassles of following a case in different countries also make it easier for the perpetrators to carry on and escape detection.

The victim from Kattappana managed to escape the clutches of the racketeers with the help of a Malayali client, but was detained at the emigration counter at Dubai for not having right papers.

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