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Indian activists working to catch child sex exploiters

A group of Indian LGBT activists has been working to entrap the pimps of underage prostitutes who have been using dating websites to tout their services
Humayunn Peerzaada

Activists from an Indian LGBT rights foundation have been working to stamp out the sexual exploitation of minors by trying to entrap their pimps on adult website.

Activists from the Mumbai based Hamsafar Trust recently became aware of a profile on a dating website which pimped the services of a 14 year old boy by a man claiming to be the youth’s uncle.

The activists began chatting with the man, hoping to be able to entrap him and bring him to the attention of authorities but say he became suspicious of them and deleted the profile.

Activist Harish Iyer became aware of the profile in late August and immediately rallied other activists to the cause.

‘I was aghast that a young boy who would not be able to indicate consent was being put up for abuse along with a rate card,’ Iyer, himself a victim of child sexual abuse, told India’s DNA news agency.

‘[The pimp] made graphic and lurid offers for the young boy’s services, claiming that he was his nephew. But now, the profile has vanished, leaving us with a cold trail.’

Iyer told DNA that this was not the first time the activists had sought to entrap someone who was sexually exploiting children.

‘A few months back, another profile on a gay dating website had got us concerned. But that too vanished,’ Iyer said.

Hamsafar Trust activist Ashok Row Kavi said it was important for activists to be vigilant in combating this kind of abuse to ensure that the wider Indian society saw that there was a clear distinction between homosexuals and paedophiles.

‘No sane person can condone trafficking, especially if there is a minor involved like in this case,’ Kavi told the agency.

Mumbai Crime Department chief Himanshu Roy acknowledged the work of groups like the Hamsafar Trust in this area and told DNA that if anyone brought an instance of online child exploitation to his department’s attention, it would be investigated.

‘We work closely with watchdog NGOs in this sector, who alert us if there is something fishy going on, Roy said.

‘If anyone approaches us with a specific complaint about a profile, we will investigate.’

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