Goa: The expanding red light district

An open Pandora’s box
10 Jun 2009, 0435 hrs IST, TNN

From massage parlours to fishing trawlers, highways to starred hotels, migrants to Goan girls, after the tearing down of Baina’s red light area, trafficking in Goa has undergone a sea change, reports Preetu Nair

* In the last three raids on massage parlours in Porvorim, Mapusa and Arpora, police rescued four Goans. The girls had joined the parlours for “better pay” and “a better future”.

* Sudha, 16, a school dropout from Sanvordem wanted fancy mobiles, money to spend on clothes, food and friends. Traffickers would lure her with the promise of a mobile phone every night for serveral months. She was later rescued from a hotel in Margao and the traffickers arrested.

* Three young girlsa Kannadiga, Manipuri and Goan were recently rescued from a massage parlour in Vagator. They were lured with the promise of “good money” and “promotion” after a year. The promotion included training in beauty treatment and a near doubling of salary to between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000.

Five years after bulldozers razed Baina’s red light area in the state’s port town of Vasco, the mode and form of trafficking has changed.

Baina’s dingy rooms have given way to fancy cubicles in massage parlours and air-conditioned rooms in starred hotels. Taxi drivers and motorcycle pilots as contact points have made way for waiters, chai boys and beach hawkers. The modus operandi too has adapted to the needs of the solicitors and the solicited.

Perhaps the biggest change, however, point out police and NGO sources, are the finding of local girls among those rescued.

“Goan girls are being lured, often by Goan women, with the promise of easy money and the belief that they can lead a comfortable life with less hardwork,” says Auda Viegas, president, Bailancho Ekvott and member of the State Protective Home that looks after rescued trafficking victims.

With the contact point shifting from the cramped lanes in Baina to just about everywhere: beaches, parlours, hotels, lodges, bars, restaurants, streets, markets, even fishing trawlers, the modus operandi nowadays is to pre-arrange a meeting point for the customer and the girl. Alternatively, women are also sent to certain areas to directly solicit, finds a study by Baina-based NGO, Arz.

The 2007-08 study, whose findings will be released soon, focused on Goa’s prostitution phenomenon after the demolition of Baina and the closure of dance bars in Mumbai. Information was collected by talking to sex workers, pimps, legislators, government authorities, hoteliers etc. The study reports that nowadays, it is not uncommon to find girls, including foreigners, soliciting on beaches, bars, restaurants, shacks and even at tourist bazaars.

Another common meeting point are night clubs where couple entry is the rule. Some girls solicit around major crossroads, traffic circles, junctions, gardens and bus stands. In Margao, Colva and other parts of Salcete taluka, women are seen soliciting on the roads, municipal garden and bus stands. Most are migrants settled in Goa, reports the study.

“After the demolition in Baina, prostitution has spread all over the state,” says Dr Pramod Salgaonkar, chairperson, Goa State Commission for Women. “While middle-budget prostitution is flourishing in the tourist belt in the form of massage parlours, prostitution along highways, hotels and houses is also on the increase,” she adds.

Arun Pandey of Arz, says, “The Baina demolition has led to an escalation in highway prostitution, prostitution in isolated places like jungles and prostitution in vehicles (private four wheelers).”

“There is an increased vulnerability of women and children in prostitution to forced sex acts and rapes. Clients would not be able to film prostituted women and children or have group sex in a brothel. Now this is possible,” he adds.

Goa police’s public information officer SP AV Deshpande calls it “old wine in a new bottle”. “The business is the same. But girls are now better educated and pimps are using the latest technology to operate and attract high paying clients. The business has become more sophisticated.” Moreover, new destination points for trafficking in Goa and in neighboring states have developed, he says.

As for local girls entering the trade, Dr Pramod Salgaonkar shrugs off the matter, “There are few Goan girls who are misguided and pushed into prostitution. But the number is minuscule.”

Auda Viegas, emphasizes, “We have to get out of denial mode and accept that in the changing scenario our Goan girls are also being lured into commercial sex work and in most cases by Goan women. It’s the lure of easy money and a false belief that it’s an easy life.”

(Names of trafficked victims changed)

The supply chain

Air

Upper class commercial sex workers and their clients prefer to fly into Goa. Prior to meeting, customers choose from photos shown on mobilephones by agents. The agent then makes the deal with the girl and the amount charged can go up to Rs 1 lakh per night. A part of the payment is made in advance and is immediately verified at the nearest ATM. One-way air fare is paid by the middle man who can earn as much as Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 in one deal. Hotels are avoided and girls are taken to bungalows or flats.

Train

Girls brought into Goa by train, mostly alight at Thivim and Vasco stations from where they are picked up and taken to flats. They are supplied as per demand.

Bus

Girls brought into Goa by bus get down at Mapusa, Panaji, Margao, Ponda or Bicholim bus terminii. They are then taken to other destinations by pimps.

Private vehicles

While trafficking via private vehicles, a “manager” accompanies the girls who are then handed over to the relevant person in Goa. The manager gets “good luck” money a cash incentive that can go up to Rs 5,000 per girl. The girls are received at specific places, mostly in Mapusa and Panaji.

In such deals, the girls are taken on a “contract” basis of about Rs 25,000 for 15 days. Each girl has to entertain 8 to 12 customers per day. If a customer complains, the girl faces a financial “penalty” of up to Rs 5,000 or more.

* Information from study: Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Goa’ by Baina-based NGO, ARZ

Massage parlours

Place: Mostly in the coastal belt

Operate from: Stalls erected behind beach shacks, hotels, lodges and rented houses. While some are high-class massage/beauty parlours, others operate from dingy rooms. There are registered as well as unregistered parlours that traffick. A security guard at most places facilitates entry into the parlour.

CSWs: From Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nepal. Of late, Goan girls have also been found working in such parlours.

Customers: Domestic, foreign tourists, even local youngsters have been found visiting those located in Bardez taluka.

Modus operandi: Customers do not approach massage/beauty parlours directly. They are solicited by mostly young boys. After soliciting, the customers (either alone or in groups of 2-4) are brought to the parlour via private or commercial vehicles. In a majority of cases, vans are used to transport the solicited customers.

Price: Varies from Rs 2,500 to Rs 25,000

Hotels & lodges

Place: Almost everywhere in Goa

CSWs: Predominantly from Maharashtra (mainly Mumbai, Pune and Sawantwadi), Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nepal. Young, smart, modern, fashionable and Hindi-speaking girls are preferred.

Modus operandi: The girls are accommodated at the hotel or in a nearby rented house. After agents fix a deal with customers, the girls are made available. Those put up in rented premises are contacted over their mobiles and picked up from their residences.

Agents in hotels and lodges also contact girls who openly solicit in markets and beaches. On receiving the details, the girl proceeds to the hotel/lodge.

In another variant, in Bardez taluka rooms are rented to girls on an hourly basis.

Some hotel managers also have contacts with CSWs from other states in order to meet demand. If the girl does not have money to travel, she is instructed to board a particular bus where the ticket is paid for directly at the travel agency by the hotel manager. She diembarks at the said destination and is taken directly to the hotel.

Customers: Domestic and foreign tourists

Rented Rooms

Place: CSWs are kept in rented rooms and houses in villages

CSWs: From Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nepal.

Modus operandi: The girls are brought to Goa by bus or train on contracts that range from a week to a month.

In Bardez taluka, they are mostly picked up from the Mapusa bus stand or Thivim railway station.

They are not allowed to leave the rooms/houses. Whenever they are taken out, vehicles with black tinted glasses are used. After the contract period they are paid and sent back.

Fishing trawlers

Place: Fishing jetties and nearby market areas. Though entry into fishing jetties is restricted, the girls are permitted.

CSWs: Mostly from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Modus operandi: Soliciting is done by the CSW herself. The room is often a trawler anchored a distance away from the jetty.

Though cash is paid, in many cases the girl gets fish or prawns which she later sells.

Customers: Migrants from Kerala, Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, who work on contract basis with trawler owners.

Brothels

Place: Baina, Vasco

Modus operandi: Customers are solicited by motorcycle pilots and taxi drivers at bus stands, railway stations, markets, gardens and brought to Baina beach.

Here, a deal is made with the madam’ (brothel owner) and once finalized the girl is sent with the customer to a nearby, pre-determined room.

The amount paid is shared by the pimp, room owner, madam and the CSW. At times, the CSW is forced to solicit customers herself.

Isolated places

Place: Prime areas include the KTC bus stand, Municipal garden, Railway bridge and railway station in Vasco city. Also Sada, Bogda, the Japanese garden, Kharewada, Birla, Zuari Nagar, Verna industrial estate, Kelsim and Thane and Cortalim.

CSWs: Mostly those displaced after the demolition of the red light area in Baina.

Modus operandi: CSWs solicit customers on the roads and take them to nearby hotels, lodges or thickly forested areas.

Highways

Place: Highways passing through some of the state’s interior talukas. Mostly in highly industrial and mining areas.

CSWs: Mostly from migrant populations settled in slums or rented houses.

Modus operandi: CSWs solicit at different locations along the highways. The customer is taken to a room or the girl travels to another location in the latter’s vehicle.

Customers: Mostly truck drivers and helpers.

Original at Times of India

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