An Interview with Ruchira Gupta in Women LEAD

Migrant Sugar Cane Project

Photo Credit: David Goldman (davidgoldmanphoto.com)

“I have always longed for equality and justice. I have joined any campaign or movement for social and political justice. I slowly began to see that sex was a kind of class or caste; that of any group, females were the largest group that were universally unequal. So I began to campaign for women’s empowerment to create a world which respected the full social, political and economic equality of women,” said Ruchira Gupta, Founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide.

In this month’s article for Women LEAD, Nepal, Megan Foo, President of Women LEAD’s Hong Kong Chapter, takes a closer look at Ruchira’s history in advocating to put an end to to sex trafficking and Ruchira speaks about why she campaigns for women’s empowerment.

To read the full article in Women LEAD, Nepal: click here 

Apne Aap Women Worldwide held the first candle light march in the Sonagachi red light area

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Prostituted Girls, Women and activists marched in the Sonagachchi red-light area to demand police investigate the murder of 20 year old Saathi Das, who was trafficked there 9 months ago. Prostituted girls and women from Kolkata’s red light areas and activists under the banner of Apne Aap Women Worldwide took on a, first of its kind, candle light march in the Sonagachi red light area, to demand police take action against the murderer of Sathi Das. 

Sathi was a member of the Apne Aap network. She had started attending Apne Aap’s adult literacy classes and had auditioned for a part in a TV serial and was trying to get out of prostitution. She had planned to start conference bag making classes with Apne Aap just two days before she was strangled. Shockingly, she was found dead in the morning and somebody had run away with her two children. Her cell phone is also missing. The brothel owner and one of her regular clients are also missing. The police have failed to investigate the case. The march was followed by a meeting of survivors, activists and Apne Aap team members to plan followup actions against the growing violence against prostituted girls and women in the Sonagachchi red light area.

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PBS NewsHour airs a two-part special on Apne Aap conducting a rescue

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“RUCHIRA GUPTA: I am once again reminded why slavery still exists, because the laws are on paper and they are never implemented. And this is like – is back to ground zero, where I realize that the police, come what may, do not want to implement the laws on behalf of women and girls.”

Above Ruchira Gupta speaks on the troubles involved with fighting sex trafficking in the PBS NewsHour special which aired this week. Special PBS correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro traveled to India to take a closer look at the issue.

Please take a look at Apne Aap working in the field to put an end to sex trafficking as they conduct a rescue in India in a two-part special. Links provided below:

To watch Part one: click here

To watch Part two: click here

Last Girl March

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In the memory of Nirbhaya we are launching a march asking for an end to violence against women and girls. We have started this global march in the red light area of Frobesganj, Bihar because we believe that the last girl who is poor, female, low caste is the worst vicitm of sexual violence. She is invisible and neglected. Our march hopes to make the last girl visible and to be included in all laws and policies and government interventions for her uplift. We want the ‘uday’ of the ‘ant kanya’.

The symbol of the march is Priya, a comic character who is a rape survivor, who flies around the world on a tiger standing upto sexual violence. Every march will start with a mural painted on a street wall and end at a bus stand, in memory of Nirbhaya or Jyoti Singh Pandey who was brutally raped in a bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012 and then murdered. The mural will also be the image of Priya sitting on a tiger against sexual violence.

This march will go all the way to UN in New York City with a call to action on March 2015 during the International Women’s Day asking the UN to include the last girl as they debate the Beijing Plus Twenty plan of action.

We invite everyone to join our march by doing similar events anywhere till March, 2015. You can join our March by uploading photos of your march and selfies with Priya on our facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Apne-Aap-Woman-Worldwide/

Anybody can download the comic online from this free downloadable link, https://www.facebook.com/priyas.shakti and the image for the mural and march from Apne aap’s website, http://www.apneaap.org/

Rape Survivor Challenges India’s Sexual Violence Problem in New Augmented Reality Comic Book.

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The epic comic book, PRIYA’S SHAKTI, creates a new Indian hero who tackles the problem of sexual violence in India and around the world, premiered at the Mumbai Film and Comics Convention from December 19-21, 2014.

Inspired by ancient mythological tales, the comic book tells the story of Priya—a mortal woman and gang-rape survivor—and the Goddess Parvati as they fight against gender-based sexual violence in India and around the world supporting the movement against patriarchy, misogyny and indifference.

Creators Ram Devineni and Dan Goldman are presenting the innovative comic book that uses the popular augmented reality APP – Blippar – to make animation, videos, real-life stories, and other interactive elements pop-out of the pages. Additionally, several large colorful murals from the comic book are being painted on the walls throughout Mumbai. Audiences will be able to see special animation and movies pop out of the wall when they scan the murals on their smart phones. Priya’s Shakti is a recipient of a 2014 Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund grant supported by Ford Foundation.

Apne Aap Women Worldwide is the project’s engagement partner. Priya’s Shakti highlights the threat of sexual harassment and violence that women face on a daily basis unless deeply rooted patriarchal norms are challenged. Additionally, this project will help define the new frontier of integrating literary publications and exhibitions with augmented reality technology such as Blippar.

The comic book is free worldwide in every digital format and downloadable on the project’s website and at ComiXology and BitTorrent. Rattapallax, a literary publishing house and film production company based in New York City and New Delhi, is producing the entire project.

For more information, visit www.priyashakti.com

Please take a moment to listen to our voice messages on soundcloud below

Patna High Court files landmark Judgment on Apne Aap PIL

Migrant Sugar Cane ProjectPhoto by: David Goldman, davidgoldmanphoto.com

Click here to read judgment  

Patna High Court files landmark Judgment on Apne Aap PIL

Here is a link to a landmark judgment by the Patna High Court http://indiankanoon.org/doc/83172639/ on a public interest litigation filed by Apne Aap three years ago after our activist Kalam was falsely arrested, another activist Fatima’s daughter was kept in a police lockup up all night and  police looked on as traffickers pulled girls out of our boarding school saying their pimp-father had the right to take their daughters out!

We had asked for the court to ask the police to arrest traffickers and not activists, have special police officers for trafficking cases, social welfare services for both victims and at risk girls in every panchayat, boarding schools for at-risk girls, health, education, housing and legal services as well citizenship and subsidy documents for all victims. We shared Apne Aap’s ten asset approach from safe space, education through KGBV boarding schools, to karate class, to government IDs and subsidies, to livelihood support, bank accounts and services or victims as well as more shelters and more police action against traffickers and clients.

In a sweeping judgement, the court has asked the government of Bihar to tackle trafficking from every angle in every village. They will work to identify missing children, ensure school for at-risk children, arrest traffickers and clients, provide citizenship papers and subsidies to at-risk women and victims, provide seed money for small business, set up more shelters, and report back. It is truly one of the most comprehensive anti-trafficking judgements in the poorest state of India with a population of 82,998,509 of which 23,852,828 are girls. This judgement can transform the lives of the most marginalized of them by giving them access to citizenship and services and justice which has evaded them for centuries.

If we can get this judgement implemented in spite of the lack of resources in Bihar and track the difference it makes in five years, we will have proven our point to the whole world.

 

Lucy Liu’s Directorial Debut on Human Trafficking

The New York Times

By: Lucy Liu

I traveled to Mumbai in 2010 to direct my first film “MEENA,”based on the first chapter of Nick and Sheryl’s book Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Even though MEENA is only a 20 minute film and took 5 days to shoot, it has taken nearly four years for it to finally be seen by an audience. The earlier feedback we received was that the content was too strong and that viewers would feel uncomfortable with the aggressive nature of violence in conjunction with children. The premiere of Meena this week was truly transformative. I felt excited and reinvigorated to be surrounded by an audience who were not only engaged by the film’s message, but also curious about how they can become more actively involved in learning about child protection…continue reading.

 

 

“Town of Love” Book Review Mentions Apne Aap

Wales Art Review

by  B.J. Epstein

Town of Love by Anne Ostby tells a story that arguably has not previously been discussed quite so openly, beautifully, and sorrowfully in literature before. It is a depressing read, yes, but it also has a welcome aura of hope, and belief in the human spirit. Human trafficking and prostitution are issues that must get more attention; while this novel is set in India, this is not just an Indian tale. Early on, the narrator notes; ‘Principles were a luxury that no one in Prem Nagar could afford.’ Again, this could apply to many other locales around the world. Continue Reading…

Curie Review Interview with Founder and President, Ruchira Gupta

Curie Review

 

Jillian Dunham:  You made a pretty major mid-career change, from being a BBC journalist and a documentary filmmaker to an activist who created Apne Aap. Was there something in that point in your life that pushed you to make that change?

Ruchira Gupta: Anger and outrage. As a journalist, I had covered war and famine and hunger and conflict, but when I spent time inside the brothels of Bombay and spoke to the women and saw what I saw, I’d never seen that kind of deliberate exploitation of one human being of another.

What angered me further was the attitude of friends, politicians, police officers, that if these women were not prostituted, women from good families would be raped, that ‘men would be men.’ War, hunger, and ethnic conflict were considered evil, but the daily commercial rape happening in brothels was normalized, justified and even romanticized.  I thought, I can do only so much as a journalist. I wanted to do more. Continue reading…

 

Arunachalam Muruganantham

Time

The entrepreneur who is an unlikely health crusader

In a small south Indian town, a man’s empathy for his wife has sparked a revolution. In 1998, Arunachalam Muruganantham asked his wife why she hoarded dirty rags and was told she needed them during menstruation. Buying sanitary napkins would cost too much. His response: designing a simple machine to produce sanitary pads. He even wore some himself, using a tiny pump to test absorption. And instead of selling his idea to the highest bidder, he supplies his low-cost machines to rural communities. Now millions of poor Indian women can avoid painful urinary-tract infections and create their own pad-manufacturing businesses. The invention has also sparked interest around the world. Continue Reading.