Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The work of setting captives free is complex and unpredictable, especially when it involves raiding brothels, working with local authorities, and identifying minors trapped in sex slavery. Tim and Mitchell are witnessing this firsthand right at Freedom Firm in India. Here's a real life look from Tim into the work of investigators there, and the difficult decisions that often follow their due diligence. Investigators1

July 14, 2015

Sometimes you’re presented with two choices and the answer is clear. For instance, if you’re offered cake or ice cream, that one’s easy in my mind. (Ice cream. Always ice cream.) But sometimes, life presents you with choices where a decision is much more difficult to reach or the thought of choosing one over the other leaves you sick to your stomach.

First thing this morning, we reviewed undercover footage that Freedom Firm investigators captured the night before of three possible targets in a red light area. One girl was dressed in blue, one in yellow, and another in white. The girl in blue was in one brothel while the girls in yellow and white were in another brothel two blocks away. Over the next 30 minutes, we poured over three separate videos of these girls trying to determine whether they were clearly minors. (In India, to attempt a raid on a target that is obviously a major—18 years or older—results in losing credibility with the police as majors are allow to prostitute in the red light area, even if though it is technically illegal).

After about 5 minutes, the consensus was that the girl in yellow was difficult to confidently identify as a minor, so our focus shifted to the girl in blue and the one in white. For the next 25 minutes, we debated back and forth trying to answer this one question: Which girl would we attempt to rescue—the girl in blue or the girl in white?

Tim_Investigator

To answer that question, our query turned to determining which girl was youngest. One investigator was certain the girl in blue was a minor and younger than the girl in white, while a handful of us were convinced that the girl in white was a minor and clearly younger than the girl in blue. Back and forth we went, reviewing the footage over and over, looking for any clue to help us make the correct determination. After about 15 minutes I asked, “Why not rescue both girls?”

While it’s certainly possible to attempt two rescues simultaneously, conducting one successful rescue can be difficult enough and attempting two only increases the chances that neither will be successful. We would seek permission from the police to attempt one raid, then after the area had quieted down in a few weeks, Freedom Firm would work to rescue the other girl.

Finally, a show of hands was called to determine which girl was youngest. Four raised their hands for the girl in blue. Four raised their hands for the girl in white.

Deadlock. More evidence was needed.

The investigators left soon afterward to gather more footage of these two girls to better determine which was youngest, while another group went to the police station to seek permission to conduct a raid. By nightfall, the investigators had not found the girl in white and the police were wholly opposed to conducting a raid today.

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In the end, our difficult choice was irrelevant, at least for now. We didn’t have to make a call on which girl to rescue, but in this line of work there are seldom quick answers or easy solutions as lives hang in the balance.  Right now, all three girls are still in the red light districts. Tomorrow may bring a different scenario, a new set of choices, and a new outcome. The legwork has been done. This is where prayer and planning intersect. Please join us in praying for a successful raid in the near future and freedom for one or more of these girls as a result.