Press Release Against Trafficking Bill

The Last Girl and Her Vulnerabilities to Sex-Trafficking: Parallel Event at NGO CSW62

NOTICE: This event has been cancelled due to bad weather in New York City, but will be livestreamed on Apne Aap’s Facebook page at 2:30pm EST on March 21st:

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) brings together civil society and governments annually to exclusively discuss the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The Last Girl & her Vulnerabilities to Sex-Trafficking
March 21, 2:30 PM • Church Center of the United Nations (CCUN), Second Floor • 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017

Join us for a discussion on the vulnerabilities of women and girls from Dalit, indigenous, Native American, and segregated Black communities to sexual violence because they are The Last Girls who are cut off from food, housing, education, livelihoods, and even legal protection because of their intersecting inequalities that are caused by race, class, caste, gender, and ethnicity.

RSVP:; Entry Free

Speakers include:

Cynthia Stephen, Independent Writer and Researcher Working with the Dalit Community

Cynthia Stephen is an independent social policy researcher and analyst and independent journalist. She is also a well-known trainer on Gender, policy and Development issues. She hss written a number of articles for newspapers, magazines, and journals as well as contributed chapters to several books
including on the girl child and experiences of discrimination in higher education in India. Her body of
work includes leadership in several people’s initiatives for justice, in large country-wide women’s
empowerment groups, and theoretical work on Women’s concerns from the unrecognized perspective
of women and girls from the large number of marginalised sections in India. She represents three of
them – being a woman, a religious minority (in India), and also being identified with the Dalit
community, from among the former untouchables in India. She is President of the Training, Editorial and Development Services Trust, (TEDS Trust), and is based in Bangalore, India.


Mickey Meji, Survivor-Activist and Program Associate for Survivor Initiatives at Embrace Dignity South Africa

Mickey Meji is a feminist, human rights and gender activist that seeks to abolish the system of prostitution. She dreams of a world where no woman and or girl are bought, sold, and exploited.

Rebecca Bender, CEO & Founder RBI, Survivor Leader & Expert 

Rebecca Bender is the founder and CEO of the Rebecca Bender Initiative (RBI).
She is an award-winning, nationally recognized expert on human trafficking. After
escaping nearly six years of modern day slavery, she wrote her first book,
Roadmap to Redemption, followed by her recent curriculum Elevate. RBI’s
advanced trainings have equipped FBI, Homeland Security, Former President
Jimmy Carter, local law enforcement, medical professionals, service providers,
and faith communities across America. Rebecca serves as an advisor to both the
Oregon DOJ Human Trafficking Council and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human
Services. She is also the recipient of the Female Overcomer Award, Unlikely
Hero Award, Hero to our Generation Award and multiple FBI and Congressional
recognitions. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their four
daughters, and is currently finishing her masters. She is a sought after speaker
and consultant and has been featured on the Today Show, NBC Deadline
Crimes, Forbes, Huffington Post, and Sports Illustrated.

Ruchira Gupta, Founder/President Apne Aap

Ruchira Gupta has pioneered laws, policies, protocols, conventions and Best Practice approaches in the Feminist Abolitionist struggle against sex-trafficking in the UN, globally and India. Her work will be archived at Stanford Library and will be open access for students across the world to study. Her journey began as a journalist, when she made the Emmy-winning documentary, The Selling of Innocents. With the help of the documentary, she testified to the US Senate for the passage of the first Trafficking Victim Protection Act and to the UN for the passage of the UN Protocol to End Trafficking in Persons. She founded the Indian anti-sex trafficking organization, Apne Aap Women Worldwide, that supports thousands of prostituted and at risk girls in India. She is a visiting professor at New York University, and Distinguished Scholar at University of California, Berkley. She is the editor of a feminist journal for SAGE, Antyajaa: Indian Journal of Women and Social Change and two anthologies- River of Flesh & Other Stories and The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader. She has been presented the French Légion d’honneur, an Emmy, and the Clinton Global Citizen, UN NGO CSW Woman of Distinction award. She dreams of a world in which no human being is bought or sold.

Shanie Roy, Survivor-Activist Canada

Shanie Roy is pursuing a Master of Laws at Université du Québec a Montréal, Canada. Currently, she participates in collaborative research projects mainly about working conditions of women and their access to justice. Through the years, Roy has worked with many local and international feminist associations, or community organizations promoting social development and advocacy for girls and women’s rights. From the age of fifteen till nineteen, she was a victim of sexual exploitation. Since then, she actively strives for the abolition of prostitution and organizes with various organizations collective action and awareness campaign.



 Join us at the Socially Relevant Film Festival NY as we celebrate 20 years of Ruchira Gupta’s Emmy-Winning Documentary, ‘The Selling of Innocents,” which led to the birth of Apne Aap and the rescue of over 22,000 prostituted women


Spotlight Event:
Screening of short films followed by a panel discussion to launch the Socially Relevant™ Film Festival NY
Monday, March 19•  6:00 pm  Cinema Village • 22 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

Buy your ticket here!


Distinguished Speaker Ambassador Swanee Hunt- Founding Director of the Women and Public Policy ProgramHarvard Kennedy School of Government 
Simone Monasebian
 – Director New York UNODC Office
Felicia Greenfield  Actress-Activist (Homeland, House of Cards)
Jessica Vale – Filmmaker-Activist (Small Small Thing) 

Program presented with the Socially Relevant™ Film Festival NY and UN Media Partnership in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals




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.

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