This is part 2 of “Rescuing Molly” a first-person account of a brothel raid in India that occurred on January 7, 2014. To read part 1, click here.
It was dusk and darkness settled quickly when Suparee, the lead police officer, finally agreed to conduct the raid. As we drove across town to the red light district my stomach was knotted with anticipation as questions that only time could answer raced through my mind. Was this it?Was this going to be the night Molly was rescued? Was January 7th going to be her first day of freedom?
After ten minutes of weaving through a white-knuckle patchwork of Indian traffic we arrived. The driver pulled over just outside the red light district and cut the engine.
Greg, Freedom Firm’s founder, pulled out his phone and texted the undercover investigators, giving them the green light to go and find Molly.
Closing his phone, Greg looked up with a thin but hopeful smile and said, "All we can do now is pray they find her."
If the investigators’ found Molly, one of them would "engage" her, meaning pay the brothel keeper for her services, go with her to a private room where the door would usually be locked, then send a text to our team that Molly was secured and we could commence the raid.
As we sat waiting for a signal from the investigators no one said anything.
The silence was deafening.
Usually an investigator would signal back within 10 minutes of entering the red light district, but not today.
Ten minutes went by.
Fifteen minutes went by.
Finally, Greg received a text. Molly was nowhere to be found. It seemed that our window of opportunity was gone.
"Maybe she’s in with a customer," Greg thought out loud.
Our hearts sank. All day the pieces had fallen into place. Success seemed to be ours for the taking, yet now the final and most important piece--Molly--was nowhere to be found.
Greg sat in silence for a few moments collecting his thoughts.
The police were getting restless. One cop stepped out of their too-cramped vehicle to stretch his legs and make a phone call. Suparee didn’t say anything but it was obvious he wasn’t willing to wait much longer.
Looking up from his thoughts, Greg said, “We move on to Plan B.”
With that, Greg texted another investigator signaling him to go to another brothel where they suspected--but had not confirmed--that a minor was being sold for sex.
After another 10 minutes of palpable silence, Greg's phone lit up. As he read the text on his phone, Greg's face spread into a huge smile.
The text read, "Molly found. Engaged."
A moment later, the driver fired up the engine, threw the car into gear and with a jolt we drove into the red light district. After driving as far as we could down the narrow, winding lanes, we jumped out of the car and proceeded on foot.
My senses were buzzing and my skin tingled as adrenaline shot through my veins. I was in India, on a raid to rescue a young girl who had been trafficked into a brothel.
As we hurried to our destination, people all around us looked up with cautious and confused stares. After a few moments, one person caught on to what we were doing and turned to run. Then everyone did.
People ran in every direction. Doors slammed and windows were shut, all bolted tight.
Right as we arrived at the brothel where Molly was enslaved, the brothel keeper slammed the door shut. But before she could lock it, two plain-clothes police officers caught the door and pried it open. In an instant five police officers poured into the tiny, ramshackle brothel.
Inside there was a flurry of shouting. A moment later one girl came out.
I searched her face trying to look through her thickly caked, incongruous makeup to see Molly, but this wasn't her.
A minute later another girl came out, escorted by a female officer.
This was Molly.
Scared and confused her eyes darted back and forth uncertain of what was happening.
Immediately, Mincy, Freedom Firm’s social worker, went to Molly, put her arm around her shoulders, took her hand and led her aside. Mincy explained who she was, that Molly was safe, and that she would not be going back to the brothel.
After the police arrested the brother keeper and cleared the scene, we walked back to our vehicles and drove to the police station. There the brothel keeper was booked and charged with prostituting a minor, trafficking a minor, and other crimes associated with keeping a brothel.
With Mincy by her side, Molly gave her statement to the police. Later still, Molly was taken to a hospital for age verification and thereafter to a government shelter for minor girls rescued from prostitution (to read more about this shelter click here).
After a very long day I walked into the lobby of my hotel at around 11:30PM.
I was exhausted but invigorated. Hungry, but too overwhelmed to eat as the realization of what I had just been part of set in.
It’s not often one has the opportunity to be part of someone’s first day of freedom, and while I was physically present for the events of the day, make no mistake, you were there too.
As a supporter of Freedom 4/24 you played a vital and integral role in rescuing Molly. Without your donations or participation in a Run 4 Their Lives race Molly would not have been rescued that day.
Your giving to Freedom 4/24 directly funds Freedom Firm’s work in central India—from investigations, to brothel raids; from restorative social work, to helping young girls find the courage to confront their brothel keepers in court. For each and every step of the process, your sacrificial giving paves the path to freedom.
At Freedom 4/24 we firmly believe that freedom begins with a day. For Molly, that day was January 7, 2014. As her story unfolds we'll bring you updates of her progress, her triumphs, setbacks, and accomplishments. Until then, please keep Molly and the Freedom Firm team supporting her in your prayers.