lesh trade in Capital city has become a booming business if the recent spate of busting of flesh trade rackets is any indication. In many instances, gullible customers are being duped by pimps through online advertisements as they don’t lodge formal complaints fearing embarrassment. Orissa POST tries to deconstruct the modus operandi of the operatives
Bhubaneswar: Flesh trade in the Capital city continues unabated both from street corners to online. One can find call girls waiting for customers at public places like the railway station, AG Square, Unit II Market, Kalpana and Infocity areas after 9 pm when the streets wear a deserted look.
At Bhubaneswar Railway Station, prostitutes can be seen even at 9pm. The surprising fact is, all this happens behind the GRP police station. There is also a specific area where prostitutes from other states stay – Malisahi near Kharvel Nagar. However, there are many other places in the city where flesh trade goes on openly without any hindrance despite night patrolling by the police. This is illegal.
In the railway station area, three gangs consisting of middle-aged women are active, according to railway police sources. The women who act as pimps here are basically trapping the gullible people and looting them of their money. Police have detained them many times but they return to their business after sometime.
As per reliable sources, as many as 30 rackets are flourishing in the state Capital. They engage workers from foreign countries and more from the neighbouring West Bengal.
These girls and women are not only involved in prostitution but are also into stealing and wallet snatching, according to reports and information. They have a track record of manhandling customers if the ‘rates’ don’t work out. Customers usually don’t discuss this with anyone or report such incidents to the police to avoid ignominy and trouble.
It is believed that some police personnel have contacts with them and whenever the police patrol reaches their haunts, they get information from the police sources and they clear the places. They even have money sharing system with the police.
The flesh trade is also rampant online. Masquerading as escort services, there are many websites which openly invite the customers by giving the contact numbers. If you message them they will send you the ‘rate chart’ along with the places where you have to go. That’s not all. The tools of digital technology are deployed to the hilt to assist the potential customers. Once a message is sent, the customer will get photos of the girls and the location, thanks to Google Maps, where he has to go to meet up with the escort service.
There are many sites that present themselves as platforms for those who want to give ads for sex. Many of these call girls are from states such as West Bengal and Maharashtra and countries like Thailand and Russia. Many are college students and their ‘service charge’ ranges from anywhere between Rs 3,500 and Rs 20,000 and sometimes more.
Dance bars as safe havens
Many dance bars in the city also engage the bar dancers in flesh trade. Many a time the agents of the dancers who were brought from other cities like Kolkata, Mumbai and other places are forced to go with some clients and perform special dance for them.
A dance bar girl told Orissa POST, “We were brought under 50-50 deal whereby whatever we get from the clients at the dancing bar we have to share it with our agents. Even when the earning was not that much we still have to pay him 50 per cent which leaves us with less money. So, when some clients want a personal programme we agree because it means that we can have some extra money.”
Evolving massage concept
Have you ever heard of Nuru Massage? It is a Japanese erotic massage technique requiring one or more Nuru masseuses to rub their body against the client’s when both parties are nude and covered with an odourless colourless lotion. The word ‘Nuru’ means “slippery/smooth”. This type of massage is now available in the City and such ads are also posted on websites.
The other side of the website sex service is photos of innocent local girls are used without their knowledge to trap the people. Police patrolling and cyber security is of no use as every day the business is flourishing. A recent survey by Orissa POST revealed that many unsuspecting girls and women have faced the problem of fake IDs on social media on various occasions. A model by profession, Aradhana (name changed) said recently her Facebook and Instagram accounts have been hacked.
She said, “I believe this is simply a misuse of technology to spread fake news and hate. Most fake IDs are created to take revenge or defame a person. It is sad that our IT laws are not yet strong enough to curb this menace and punish the guilty.”
Transgenders into it
There is also a transgender factor in sex trade. Usually, they operate in Khandagiri and other areas at night and act as agents.
The transgender first contacts the customer and provides him the girl’s number. Many a transgender rent a room for the job at night. One can see transgenders waiting for their customers at Khandagiri, Nayapalli, Rasulgarh and Palasuni areas at night.
What police say
A senior police official of the state cyber cell at Cuttack, on condition of anonymity said, “No victim has lodged a complaint in connection with being cheated by cyber criminals through flesh trade ads published on classified sites. We’ll take appropriate action if the matter is brought to our notice. It is almost impossible to track online sites everyday for checking the illegal activities. However, whenever someone brings it to our notice we will act against the criminals behind the websites. It is also illegal to lure customers for flesh trade through online websites as per the IT Act. We can assure stringent action against the accused handling the websites if a case is filed or the names of particular websites come to our notice through media reports.”
There are cases where people were looted after they reach places through fake ads. Fear of embarrassment prevents them from filing complaints. People are failing into the trap of the cyber criminals who post tempting ads on various classified websites like Locanto. Many victims have also raised the issue with the Odisha Police on social media platforms and sought stringent action against the cyber criminals. However, most of them stay away from filing any complaint fearing humiliation. The frauds first ask the person to deposit some amount as registration fee in their account in order to get the details about the girls or women. However, they do not respond to the phone calls by the victim once they get the amount. A victim from Angul told
Orissa POST, “I had contacted with a pimp through the number given in the advertisement in the classified site for escort services. However, the lady picked up the phone and told me that I could earn around Rs 30,000 to Rs 45,000 by working as a gigolo. Subsequently, I deposited around Rs 5,000 in the account messaged by the lady to him. But there was no response from them.”
What the rules say
According to Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956, one can adopt prostitution only privately but cannot legally solicit customers in public. As per the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, also called the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA), sex workers who seduce or solicit shall be prosecuted. Similarly, call girls cannot publish their phone numbers in the public, violation of which will invite imprisonment up to six months along with penalty as decided by the court. Sex workers are liable to be punished for undertaking prostitution near public places or notified areas. Carrying out prostitution in public places would attract imprisonment of up to three months with fine.
Arindam Ganguly & Gyan Ranjan Mohapatra, OP