"She had three bank accounts and has close to Rs 1 lakh in total."
Police have arrested a 60-year-old Indian woman for running a sex racket and brothel in her own premises.
The arrest took place on 6th February 2018, when Thane Anti-Human Trafficking Cell (AHTC) raided a second-floor flat in the Manas Cooperative Housing Society.
Reports have identified the individual as Sumati Mahinkar, a widow. During the raid, officers rescued a woman, who allegedly worked at the brothel for roughly 2 months.
They also recovered a diary which detailed all customers who visited the location in the last 2 years.
Head of AHTC, Inspector Ravindra Daundkar told reporters:
“The house had been converted into a brothel, with beds even in the kitchen. We also found contraband and unused boxes of condoms on the premises.”
He also added: “She had three bank accounts and has close to Rs 1 lakh [approx. £1,100] in total. She confessed that the business had been going on for the past two years.”
Police will continue with their investigation into the crime. But it highlights how India still struggles with the sex trade. Recently, some states have made new attempts to eradicate it.
Officers are now targeting sex buyers, with state governments planning to criminalise them and raids on brothels increasing.
However, this particular case reveals how individuals in the trade are now ‘hiding’ brothels. By either placing them in their residence, such as Sumati Mahinkar, or disguising them.
For example, police in Kolkata conducted a raid on a brothel, disguised as a ‘spa’. While the owner evaded capture, officers arrested 2 buyers, 2 managers and 3 touts.
These efforts to halt the sex trade also aim to protect women who may have become trapped. A 2017 study highlighted how a staggering number of underage sex workers are in Mumbai brothels, with many tricked or forced to enter this line of work.
Officers have also discovered the reality potentially thousands of women and girls face who are trapped by ashrams. One particular ashram, led by Baba Virendra Dev Dixit, had allegedly entrapped 250 woman and 49 girls, using them as sex workers.
Police have not yet commented whether the woman involved in Sumati Mahinkar’s brothel was there by force or choice. Yet it shows India’s continuing battle to halt the sex trade.