'Escort websites' a challenge for Goa cops as they fight prostitution

Panaji, Sep 17 (IANS): Two decades ago the Goa government had managed to demolish the infamous ‘Red Light Area’ from Baina beach of port town in South Goa, However, as the era of technology dawned, the flesh trade found its place on ‘escort and massage’ websites, which has now become a major challenge for the police to stop.

Last week, the Goa police busted an international sex trade ring operating between Kenya and India and rescued five women with the arrest of three persons in Kenya and Nigeria.

According to the police young, educated, and vulnerable Kenyan women were falsely promised jobs in the hospitality industry by agents working on behalf of traffickers based in Goa.

"After being brought to India, the traffickers seized the women's passports and visas, forcing them into prostitution under threat of violence and imposing a debt of Rs 5-Rs 8 lakh," the police said.

Initially the police arrested accused persons Maria Dorcas, 28, and Wilkista Achista, 22, both natives of Kenya for allegedly running this sex trade. Later the police arrested one Charles Aihun, 32, a native of Nigeria, from Bengaluru, while they were trying to trace another accused, Olokpa, a Nigerian national who had been absconding since the sex racket was busted.

Charles Aihun was booked under sections 370, 370 (A), 370(3), 212 r/w 34 IPC & Sections 4, 5 & 8 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Jivba Dalvi the police had managed to locate the accused person, Olokpa, on two occasions, however on both the occasions, he managed to escape before the police reached the spot. On both the occasions Charles Aihun was found at the location where Olokpa was staying. After checking the mobile phone of Charles Aihun it was revealed that he was harbouring and providing information to Olokpa about the movements of the Goa police team in Bengaluru.

“The racket, with a close-knit group involving the trafficker duo Maria Dorcas and Wilkista, operated largely online, leveraging escort websites to solicit clients. NGO ARZ became aware of the operation when the victims were taken to Bengaluru for prostitution.

"Following a tip-off from a partner organization, ARZ successfully located the victims in Goa and facilitated a meeting with DSP Jivba Dalvi and Anjuna police inspector Prashal Dessai to share information. Later action was taken,” the police said.

The sub divisional magistrate of Mapusa in north Goa has served show cause notices to two resorts for allegedly allowing their premises to be used for the international sex trade racket.

Dalvi informed that these persons were allegedly operating a ‘massage’ website and were attracting customers through it. “We have written to the concerned domain provider and others to block this website. These accused persons were running the flesh trade through this website, hence we have started the process to take action,” Dalvi said.

The police said that after bringing the girls in Goa, the accused persons provided mobiles to them and uploaded their information on websites.

Sources informed that the website, against which the police have sought action, mentioned that it has around 94 escorts in Candolim-Goa, which is the beach area. They have listed the number of services on it with the photos of the women.

A senior police officer told IANS that they were not getting enough support from the service and website providers to block such content. “Whenever we get such information we write to the appropriate authority, but we don’t get support from them because if they block it they will lose revenue,” he said.

According to him, there are hundreds of websites providing escort and massage services in Goa, from the beach areas to any city of the coastal state.

Last year, the Goa police had launched a crackdown on illegal massage parlours operating in the state following an order from Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

Two decades ago the ‘Red Light Area’ from Baina beach of port town in South Goa was demolished after illegal activities were discovered there. Many people visiting the state used to throng there.

According to sources, currently the flesh trade is operating at several places and also in resorts, with their publicity being done on ‘escort’ websites.



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