Our Founder Ruchira Gupta is the NGO CSW/NY Woman of Distinction Awardee for 2015

unnamedAll of us at Apne Aap Women Worldwide are pleased to share some exciting news with you! This year’s NGO CSW/NY Woman of Distinction awardee is our founder Ruchira Gupta. We are so pleased to announce this honor and share our joy with you! Please find the official press release below…

Press Release:

NGO CSW/NY Announces 2015 NGO CSW Woman of the Year Distinction Awardee
January 28, 2015 – New York, NY – The NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY (NGO CSW/NY), one of three women’s committees of CoNGO that advocates for women’s rights and gender equality, is pleased to announce the 2015 NGO CSW Forum Woman of Distinction awardee, Ruchira Gupta from India, founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide.

After winning an Emmy for her documentary on sex trafficking, The Selling of Innocents, Gupta started Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-sex trafficking organization in India that empowers more than 20,000 low-caste girls and women and their family members affected by prostitution. She received the Clinton Global Citizen award for giving a voice to the voiceless and for tenaciously standing by the last girl in brothels in Bihar and India.

For over 25 years, Gupta has worked to end sex trafficking by emphasizing the link between trafficking and prostitution laws and lobbying policy makers to shift blame from victims to perpetrators. In 2000, she testified in the United States Senate before the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and addressed the UN General Assembly on human trafficking.

Gupta will be the keynote speaker at the NGO CSW/NY Consultation Day (8 March 2015 at the Apollo Theatre) along with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women. The formal presentation of the NGO CSW/NY Woman of Distinction award will take place at the annual NGO Reception (9 March 2015 at the Armenian Convention Center Ballroom, 6 pm–8 pm). This year’s theme of the UN Commission on the Status of Women is the 20th review of the Beijing Platform for Action.

About the Women of Distinction Award:
This annual award is given to a woman in recognition of her leadership in the struggle for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The honoree is a leading activist from a developing country who can address the theme of the CSW, will benefit from participation in Consultation Day, and make a difference when she returns home.

About the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY:
The NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY (NGO CSW/NY) is one of the three women’s committees of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CoNGO). Under CoNGO’s umbrella, the NGO CSW committees helped plan the NGO Forums at the UN World Conferences in Mexico, Copenhagen, Nairobi, and Beijing. NGO CSW/NY is a volunteer-based, non-profit NGO funded largely by individual contributions.

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

We Marched in Forbesganj on December 10th asking for an end to violence against women and girls

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In memory of Nirbhaya, Apne Aap Women Worldwide activists and students launched a march asking for an end to violence against women and girls. We started the global march in the redlight area of Forbesganj, Bihar because we believe that the last girl who is poor, female, low caste is the worst victim 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 march was flagged off in Delhi and Kolkata too. Everywhere the march will leave a mural in the memory of Nirbhaya.

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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/

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.

 

SIGN THIS PETITION TO STOP THE LEGALIZATION OF PROSTITUTION IN INDIA!

Help Save Prostituted Women in India! #Punishthepimp not the

Women!

There are three million girls and women trapped in prostitution in India. Most of them are between nine and thirteen years of age. The majority are from scheduled castes and backward classes-Dalits and OBCs. On an average they are raped by eight or ten customers a night.  The Chairperson of the National Commission for Women in India proposes to legalise  prostitution in India. This means not punishing the members of the sex-industry and their customers, which in turn means allowing the rape for profit of poor, low-caste, female, teean-agers with impunity. Join me in asking her to propose the punishment of their pimps, brothel keepers, recruiters, transporters, money-lenders, landlords, the penalizing of their clients and the de-criminalziing of the women. Let us shift the blame from the victim to the perpetrator. Let us not legalise the commodification women. Our bodies should not be on sale. #punishthepimp

 

For more information read:   http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ncw-chief-for-legalising-sex-trade/article6538903.ece  http://www.outlookindia.com/article/To-Let–For-Sale/263361  http://nhrc.nic.in/Documents/ReportonTrafficking.pdf  http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/newdelhi/sex-tourism-human-trafficking-alarming-new-trends/article1-409696.aspxhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/newdelhi/sex-tourism-human-trafficking-alarming-new-trends/article1-409696.aspx  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/11/us-norway-prostitution-idUSKBN0GB1BL20140811

 

 

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A Stop on the Writer’s Journey

 

 

Anne Ch. Ostby

   By: Anne Ch. Ostby

Sometimes, life shows you a stop on the journey, and forces you to get off the bus. Makes you stay there and see what’s going on. It forces you to get your priorities in order; compels you to take stock of how you spend your time and your life’s energy.

Meeting the Nat women in Forbesganj, Bihar, was my stop. The first time I met Meena, Fatima and the others, I was unaware that this would be the first step of a long trek that would eventually lead to me writing a novel. Intrigued and impressed by the work of Ruchira Gupta and Apne Aap, I had accepted an invitation to visit their centers. Ruchira’s ambitious challenge for my visit became, ”You can write a book about it!” This at first seemed too daunting, but a book was what eventually developed. A chance meeting in Tehran in 2007 led to the researching, writing, and publishing of Town of Love, a fictional account of human trafficking and inter-generational prostitution based on countless narratives shared with me by the women in Prem Nagar, Kolkata, and the Apne Aap staff working with them.

We have all heard the stories of trafficking. We have seen the documentaries, read the news articles. So why did Forbesganj become such a sudden stop on my journey? A stop that changed me as a writer and a human being? Because, in Prem Nagar it was the heart of the mother that spoke to me. Having three daughters of my own, it was the anguish of the fellow mothers that I encountered that brought the tales of the women on to the pages. When I asked any one of them about their dreams for their daughters, the answers were almost always the same: ”I want a different life for her.” I realized in those moments that I could not just listen to their stories and then get up, thank them politely, and walk away. I realized their stories needed to be shared; again and again, in different formats and different forums, until the cruelty and indignity of human trafficking is exposed, talked about and condemned by all.

So I kept coming back. I kept asking questions, kept nagging the incredibly patient, incredibly resourceful Apne Aap staff for help with details on everything from food and crops to the meaning of names. I kept listening to the women. And though the stories of Tamanna, Amina, Rupa, and Fauzia may not exist exactly as you read them, the essence of them is painfully, brutally true.

Their stories have traveled a long way now. From its first publication in Norway in 2012, the book has reached audiences in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK, Slovakia, and India (English version: Prem Nagar, Supernova Publishers). It has been presented at literary festivals and events in Norway, Australia and Fiji, and the Prem Nagar women’s stories will soon challenge audiences at the Ubud Writers Festival in Indonesia.

I am both sad and proud to be presenting these stories. Sad that they exist and demand to be told, but proud and grateful that the incredible and courageous women who I met trusted me to tell their stories. And I will keep telling them for as long as it takes.

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Buy Anne’s book “Town of Love” on Amazon today.

The Running Goddess 5k

On Sunday, June 1st The Running Goddess 5k will take place in Lasdon Park. A donation of the proceeds will be made to Apne Aap, so come out to Katonah, NY and run for a great cause! To learn more…

 

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