Feminism and the Indian National Movement :  Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay

October 2 : International Day of  Non-Violence (Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary) 
Time : 6:30 pm Venue : Asia Society NY, NY
A special conversation 

A Passionate Life : Writings by and on Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay

Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap speaks at the UN General Assembly Sept 27 2017

High level meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of The United Nations global plan of action to combat trafficking in persons(27-28 September 2017).

Read Speech Transcription

Thank you Madam Chair. My name is Ruchira Gupta and I’m from Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an organization that works against sex trafficking in India. We represent more than 20,000 girls and women who are victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. They are the poorest of the poor. They are poor, female, and low caste. On top of that, when they were trafficked into prostitution they were teenagers. Many of the girls I work with are still teenagers. I call them The Last Girls-the most vulnerable of human beings.

I applaud the leadership of the UNODC and all those who are present here today for taking the lead to create and reinforce the Global Plan of Action for Trafficking. It is much needed for the girls I work with in remote villages in India who are pimped out every day, ten times a night, just for 50 cents or 30 cents for each rape.

I am here to spotlight the needs and the vulnerability of the girls that are trafficked-The Last Girls.  As Mahatma Gandhi, born 150 years ago, said that whenever we embark on any action, we must think of the most vulnerable and weakest human being we know, and the impact of our action on that person. So I ask all of you present today to think about that most vulnerable human being as that Last Girl, the 13 year old in a brothel, who has no access to food, clothing or shelter, except what that brothel keeper gives her, and definitely no access to justice. Her trafficking, her prostitution, is not a choice. It is an absence of choice. We need to invest in her basic needs, to reduce her vulnerabilities, so she can exit out of prostitution, just as South African survivor Grizelda Grootboom said today.

We must be careful not to let any vested interest allow us to redefine her exploitation as a livelihood choice. People may try and tell us that anything which is chosen is not exploitation. But that takes us away from the context of the choice, or the grim realities that force millions of women and girls to make the choice to survive. They are still exploited. We need to understand that anything which is physically or mentally harmful is exploitation.

Let us not let any semantics take us away from our understanding of exploitation. Exploitation is exploitation, if it is harmful, chosen or not. Very often, some affiliated agencies of the UN, have been debating, that if it an economic activity is chosen, it is not exploitation, and therefore we should call it sex work. But if it is physically and mentally harmful, it is exploitation. Work is worship, noble and dignified. A renaming of exploitation as work will normalize exploitation and reverse the gains of labor struggles for dignified and sustainable livelihoods.

And therefore, I ask us all to emphasize Target 5.2 in the Agenda 2030 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which recognizes the sexual exploitation and prostitution and sexual violence done to women and girls all over the world as a major global crisis and asks all countries to combat it.

I understand that partnerships are essential to combat the sexual violence-partnerships across UNICEF, UNHCR, UNAIDS, and other UN agencies-but the most important partnership is to look at best practices that already exist as solutions to combat sex trafficking. Therefore I point to the Nordic model which has been created by Sweden, followed by Norway, and now adopted by France and Ireland, as a way to go forward. In this model, women and girls who are victims of trafficking are decriminalized, and those who buy and sell them are criminalized.

I ask that we remember to address the demand for human trafficking as the best way of preventing trafficking because it acts as a deterrent, as all the evaluations of the Nordic model have shown.

I also ask and appeal to member states and the UN to talk to my country, India, where there are two laws which are very very problematic and will have a very dangerous impact on The Last Girl. One was passed in September last year. That law has legalized child labor in my country in many sectors like family-based enterprises and audio-visual entertainment. It has also removed the ILO-IPEC list of hazardous industries that children should never be employed in.  The second law in the works is trying to delink trafficking from sexual exploitation. Both laws together will make 80 % of victims of human trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation invisible. It will create data that will show a decrease in human trafficking in India, but it will increase the numbers of child labourers and prostituted children. Trafficking is for both sexual and labor exploitation and we need to combat both as we implement the Global Plan of Action to combat trafficking.. Thank you.

Listen more : http://webtv.un.org/search/panel-discussion-2-on-the-side-of-global-plan-of-action-to-combat-trafficking-in-persons-general-assembly-72nd-session/5590695031001


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