*In 2013, with your help and your donations, Freedom 4/24 financially partnered with Freedom Firm funding a grant request to open a new field office in an undisclosed city in India** to combat the city's rampant and long-standing problem of trafficking and prostituting minor children in the city's red light district. In the first few days of 2014 a four-person team from Freedom 4/24 visited with Freedom Firm and spent two days in this city. During this visit I was privileged to observe a brothel raid from start to finish. Below is Part 1 of my first-hand account.
After a restless night's sleep on an overnight train from Mumbai we reached our destination.
Though exhausted from the previous night's constant rocking back and forth of the train, I was energized and excited to finally arrive**--ready to get to work.
Shortly after arriving, we met most of the Freedom Firm team. By late afternoon the entire team was assembled. We had all come for a single purpose: to rescue Molly.
A month earlier, the investigative team had first seen Molly in the city's red light district. She was young, estimated to be 11 to 13 years old. Freedom Firm requested local police to rescue her at that time but after days of waiting and being told "tomorrow" the writing on the wall was clear--there wouldn't be an attempt to rescue Molly then.
After the full team arrived, two investigators from the team went undercover to confirm that Molly was still in the red light district. She was. At this news, the excitement level of the team rose. Later that night over dinner the team discussed strategy and the best way to approach the local police commissioner without whose approval there would be no raid. All our hopes of rescuing Molly hinged on this man's approval.
The next morning, I jumped into a rickshaw with Greg, Freedom Firm's founder, and Mincy, lead social worker on this operation. A few minutes after arriving at the police headquarters we were ushered into the Commissioner's office. Following a few pleasantries, Mincy delicately asked for the Commissioner's help in rescuing Molly. A moment later he picked up his phone, dialed a number, and had a short conversation in the regional language. He set his phone down and looked up with a smile. We had his permission.
As we walked out to hail a rickshaw Greg and Mincy were all smiles. The pushback and stalling they encountered a month ago was nowhere to be found. Things were lining up and falling into place.
After meeting up with the rest of the team for a quick lunch, Greg asked me if I was ready to go.
"Where?" I said.
Greg responded, "You want to come on the raid?"
A moment later I kissed my wife good bye and headed out with Greg and Mincy to meet with the police team to discuss the timing of the raid.
We'd arranged to meet Suparee, the lead police officer, at a local coffee shop. While we'd secured the Commissioner's blessing, getting this guy to actually agree to conducting the raid was an entirely different task.
On the way there, Mincy pulled out her phone. Showing me a grainy picture pulled from surveillance footage captured by the investigators. She said, "this is Molly. Green jeans, pink tank top.... that's what she's wearing."
Shortly after arriving at the coffee shop Suparee arrived. After ordering coffee and a bit of chit chat, Suparee suggested we do the raid the next day as it was already mid afternoon and his team was currently tied up with a case and would not be done for several hours.
Unmoved, Greg gently pushed back insisting the raid had to happen that day as there was no guarantee she would be there the next day.
Another coffee. Another conversation. A few phone calls. More hemming. More hawing. In the back and forth of seemingly trivial conversation Suparee again gently suggested pushing the raid off until the next day. It was obvious that he didn't want to be bothered with what would turn out to be a very long night.
Greg smiled and said we'd wait. It didn't matter how long it took Suparee's team to finish their work we would be ready to go whenever they finished.
More phone calls and more coffee. By this point the conversation was a bit straining as all normal conversational topics like the weather, family, and politics had been exhausted. Still the delicate dance of garnering Suparee's cooperation would continue until he agreed. The longer we waited and the more awkward the long conversational pauses became, the more uncomfortable Suparee appeared.
Suparee could see the writing on the wall: We were not going away. One way or another he was going to have to attempt a brothel raid that night to rescue Molly.
After close to 2 hours Suparee began to cave. After taking a brief phone call, he said his team was wrapping up their work and it would be another 45 minutes but that we would attempt a raid afterwards.
15 minutes later, Suparee got a call from his team. We were on our way.
*Part 2 of this story was published in April, 2014. Click here to read it now!
- Post contributed by Tim Spaulding, Freedom 4/24 President