‘Prostitution is commercial rape; don’t term prostitutes as sex workers’

Daily Bhaskar

Kolkata: Close on the heels of Maharashtra State Women’s Commission member Asha Mirje’s controversial remark that Delhi-gang-rape victim Nirbhaya ‘invited’ rape, now Feminist icon Gloria Steinem on Wednesday described prostitution as “commercial rape” and said it was wrong to term prostitutes as sex workers. She has long been working for the welfare of women and advocated that women should not be held responsible for prostitution.

“Prostitution involves body invasion and so it is not like any other work. So how can you call it sex work? Prostitution is the only word you should use,” Steinem told reporters here. Continue Reading.


Notes on a Tour of the Indian Women’s Movement

New York Times

MS. GUPTA : Walking through the red-light areas of Sonagachi or lobbying in Albany for the New York State laws against human trafficking, Gloria and my life have interwoven into shared writing sessions,  rallies, meetings, dinners, books, conversations, late night phone calls across continents, brainstorming and sometimes movies. With her, I have experienced how movements move and how immense the feminist movement is.

I was excited about the new wave of feminism that hit the streets after the December 2012 gang rape in Delhi. I wanted Gloria to see how the movement was really moving in India, and to share Gloria’s courage and hope with my fellow protesters. Continue Reading.

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem launches her new book

Business Standard

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem today released a compilation of her insightful and thought-provoking writings here for the first time in India.

The book “The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader: As if Women Matter”, contains an introduction by Ruchira Gupta, Founder President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-sex trafficking NGO.

Published by Rupa Publications in English and Rajkamal publications in Hindi, the book includes a brand new essay on sex trafficking “The Third Way-An End of Trafficking and Prostitution: A Beginning of Mutual Sexuality” by Gloria.

“Gloria is an inspiration for not just women activists and feminists but every woman on the planet. For me she is my guru and working on her book was my way of thanking her for all she has taught me,” Ruchira said. Continue Reading.

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem launches her new book

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, Jan 15 (PTI) Feminist icon Gloria Steinem today released a compilation of her insightful and thought-provoking writings here for the first time in India.

The book “The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader: As if Women Matter”, contains an introduction by Ruchira Gupta, Founder President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-sex trafficking NGO. Continue Reading.

As If Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader Book Launch

Delhi Events

Time : 6:30 pm

Entry : Free (Seating on First-Come First-Served basis)
Note : Call 011-24619431 (IIC) to re-confirm any last minute change or cancellation of the event.

Place : C. D. Deshmukh Auditorium, Main Building, India International Centre (IIC), 40 Max Mueller Marg, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi-110003

Venue Info : Events | About | Map | Nearest Metro Stations – ‘Khan Market(Vilolet Line)’ & ‘Jor Bagh(Yellow Line)’
Area : Lodhi Road Area Events

Event Description : ‘As if Women Matter – The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader’ Talk by Ms Gloria Steinem, renowned feminist, writer and activist who will speak on her new book. Gloria Steinem is one of the most important feminist writers and organizers of the late twentieth century. Since the 1960s, Steinem has been a political activist and organizer who has urged equal opportunity for women and the breaking down of gender roles. As a writer she has produced influential essays about the need for social and cultural change.

About Apne Aap Women Worldwide is a registered charitable trust in India. A grassroots Indian organization, Apne Aap works towards the empowerment of girls and women to resist and end sex trafficking by organizing marginalized women and girls into small self-empowerment groups.

Collaboration : Apneaap Women Worldwide; and Indian Women’s Press Corps

As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader

Edited by Ruchira Gupta

Published by Roopa ( English)

Rajkamal ( Hindi)

Her early years in India taught her the Gandhian lesson that change, like a tree, must grow from the bottom up. Her decades of work with the feminist movement in her own and other countries taught her that violence and domination are normalized by the false division of human beings into subject and object, dominator and dominated, “masculine” and “feminine.”

Now, Gloria Steinem and activist Ruchira Gupta in India have chosen from her lifetime of writing those essays that reach across borders. She shares the feminist revelation that racism, caste and class cannot survive without controlling women’s bodies, and also many of the ways that feminist women and men are fighting that control. Due to female infanticide, child marriage, forced childbirth, domestic violence, sex trafficking, sexual assault in our streets, sexual assault in war zones, femicide and global pornography, this Space Ship Earth no longer has an equal number of female passengers. Consciousness has never been higher, or rebellion more widespread. This book is part of a much larger global rebellion. It includes a brand new essay by Steinem on sex trafficking: The Third Way-An End of Trafficking and Prostitution: A Beginning of Mutual Sexuality.

In its pages, you will find ideas, outrage, seriousness and laughter — and a friend

If you are in the area, consider attending the following events:

Monday, January 13, 2014: As if Women Matter: Hopes and Challenges in the Years Ahead: A Conversation between Gloria Steinem and Activists Teesta Setalvad, Vimal Thorat, Ayesha Kidwai and Jayati Ghosh, and Ruchira Gupta, followed by Q&A with students. Hosted by School of Social Sciences (SSS), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi at SSS Auditorium, 3:00- 6:30pm

Tuesday, January 14, 2014: As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader, Book Reading by Author. Hosted by Oxford Book Store at N – 81 Connaught Place, New Delhi, 6:00-8:00 pm

Wednesday, January 15, 2014: As if Women Matter – The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader, Book Release, followed by a talk with Ela Bhatt. Hosted by India International Centre, New Delhi at the Auditorium, India International Centre, 6:30-8:00 pm

Friday, January 17, 2014: The Essential Gloria Steinem: A Conversation Between Gloria Steinem and Ruchira Gupta. Hosted by Jaipur Literary Festival, Jaipur at the Diggi House, Jaipur, 12:30-2:00 pm

Thursday, January 23, 2014: Talk: As if Women Matter: New Challenges in the New World Order, moderated by Ruchira Gupta. Hosted by Patna Women’s College, Patna University,  Patna, 3:00 pm

Saturday, January 25, 2014: Inauguration of Kolkata Literary Meet by Gloria Steinem, followed by a conversation between Ruchira Gupta and Gloria Steinem at Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata. Hosted by Kolkata Literary Meet, 1:45-3:15 pm

Monday, January 27, 2014: Talk: New Freedom Struggle: Women’s Rights in India, A Conversation between Gloria Steinem, Ruchira Gupta, with the students of Presidency College and Jadavpur University, moderated by Nilanjana S. Roy. Hosted by Kolkata Literary Meet at Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, 1:45-3:00 pm 

Thursday, January 30, 2014: Women’s Rally at Araria Mahila College Ground, Bihar, 12:00-3:00 pm

India’s light-weight gun for women slammed as ‘abhorrent’


New Delhi, India (CNN) — A light-weight gun named after an Indian gang rape victim has triggered a wave of criticism from advocates who call it “abhorrent.”

Last week, an Indian state-run gunmaker introduced the .32-calibre revolver, made of titanium alloy, calling it a “valuable contribution to women’s security.”

The 500-gram firearm is called Nirbheek, meaning fearless in Hindi. The name was “inspired by Nirbhaya,” said Abdul Hamied, the general manager of the Indian Ordnance Field Gun Factory. Nirbhaya is the name given by the Indian media to the 23-year-old woman who was raped and beaten by several men aboard a public bus on December 16, 2012. She later died. The brutal attack provoked outrage across India and led to calls for improved safety and treatment of women. Read More.

Delhi the uprising capital for justice: Eve Ensler

Business Standard

Delhi has become focus for an uprising by women against injustice, believes gender rights activist and playwright Eve Ensler who spearheads a global campaign to end violence against women and girls.

“I would actually say Delhi is the place which is finally telling the real story, where all the stories are coming out. While we keep hearing about massive violence against women globally, the people in Delhi, those in the media have been brave enough to tell the stories,” Ensler said here today. Continue Reading.

Apne Aap Calls on Parliament to Delete Section 377 and Legalize Consensual Same-Sex Relations in India

New Delhi, 12 December 2013:


Apne Aap calls on Indian Parliamentarians to delete Section 377 I.P.C, a 153-year-old colonial-era law, defining homosexuality as  “unnatural offenses” and punishable by a 10-year jail term. India has been independent for sixty-six years.

In our own culture, we never limited ourselves to the binary boxes of “masculine” or “feminine.” We have gods/goddesses who are both male and female like the Ardhanareshwara. Many of our languages, like Bengali, often didn’t even have “he” or “she”.

We know today that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, are living out real, authentic lives. Yet they continue to be denied employment or a promotion, or are fired, simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender at best, or face physical assault with no legal protection at worst. In fact, many members of the LGBT community are trafficked and sold for sex, simply because of vulnerabilities caused by homelessness or workplace discrimination.

They are bravely speaking up about their sexual orientation and gender and asking not to be punished for either. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned.They are part of the full human continuum of identity and expression.

We emphasize that this change in law should not be done through the court but through our elected Parliament. The last thing we want is the subversion of our democracy in which the judiciary oversteps its boundaries and takes over the work of the elected legislature. We believe that the separation of the judiciary and the legislature is the only safeguard of a healthy democracy. Judges are appointed, not elected.

Parliament has to reverse the wrongs of British colonial laws enacted to control sexuality: on one hand they set up licensed brothels for the sale of disease free women to British soldiers and clerks under the Contagious Diseases Act, and on the other, they banned freely chosen same-sex relationships under Section 377 of the IPC.

As feminists, we ask legislatures to shed their patriarchal bias against those who cannot reproduce. The government needs to distinguish between homosexuality and pedophilia and sex and sexual exploitation.

There is much similarity between the challenges of LGBT and Queer people and all women: from health care to harassment to discrimination in the workplace. As feminists know, power over our own minds and bodies comes first. Together, we with LGBT and Queer people are learning the deepest lesson: that there is always the basic patriarchal bias against any sexual expression that can’t end in conception.

It’s time that law passed.



Ruchira Gupta Speaks at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, by Arpita Mitra, Coordinator, Women’s Development Cell, Lady Shri Ram College for Women

shri ram college, ruchira

On 29th October’ 13, The Women’s Development Cell of Lady Shri Ram College for Women organized a Guest Lecture by Prof. Ruchira Gupta, Founder/ President – Apne Aap Women Worldwide. The crucial theme that was chosen for the interactive session was ‘Sex Trafficking in India and Beyond’. Most significantly, the session also gave emphasis to the recently launched Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex Campaign – a prerogative of Apne Aap Women as a call to end every form of sex trafficking.

The session began with a short presentation exhibiting Prof Ruchira Gupta’s involvement in the issue of advocacy against sex trafficking that has presently contributed in making her a true leader, at both the national and international platform. Thereafter Prof Gupta dealt with the session in an intense yet sensitive manner. She connected profoundly with the audience, by sharing her personal journey from being a passionate journalist to someone who gradually realized the ignorance attributed to women’s voices and experiences. She beautifully retold interesting observations that she made in the initial years of being in the field of journalism: how issues involving men were termed ‘political’, while those of women as ‘cultural’ with disproportionate importance of the latter. As part of investigative journalism, even in issues ranging from ethnic conflict to armed struggles, there scarcely remained a quote from a woman.  It was post her involvement in covering the issue of Babri Masjid demolition and the attached personal account of sexual abuse; that she could realize how difficult it was for a woman to exercise her right to be heard.

Offering a linkage with her career in journalism, consequently she was horrified to learn about the staggering proportion of young girls missing from the streets of Nepal, who were found to be secretly bought and traded to the brothels of Mumbai. From there, the discussion took an interesting turn, as Prof Gupta engaged the audience in a discussion reflecting horror, pain, anger, helplessness, and a scope for improvement and change; all at the same time. She threw light on the process by which a young girl is made to internalize the hardship of being forcefully held in the business of prostitution. Most significantly, she pointed out the attitude of the pimps and customers who believe in buying domination through prostitution, much more than buying sex. By acknowledging prostitution as a system and a complex web of buyers, brothels, business and the bought, Prof Gupta reflected on the sharp distinction between sexual exploitation and sex, coupled with the idea of lack of choice for the woman who persistently gets entrapped in this business. She uncovered layers of our understanding pertaining to masculinity and the prominent version of aggressive masculinity which conveniently views prostitution as a means of supporting an economically deprived and vulnerable woman receive adequate livelihood, thereby getting away from the aspect of criminality. Through the campaign, therefore, she explains the need to acquire a societal shift, believing that it is the male demand for prostitution that continues, furthers and perpetuates trafficking.

Students who attended the session were partly stoned by the experiences narrated by Prof. Gupta. The Women’s Development Cell of the college received tremendous appreciation from the student audience for organizing an intriguing session with Prof Gupta that left a tremendous impact of all of them. The enthusiasm and interest to know more about sex trafficking got clearly reflected from the Question and Answer that lasted for nearly an hour more than what the organizers could have anticipated. Students are even curious to learn about the Campaign and further initiatives of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, that exemplifies the appreciation they have expressed for the session concerned. To put it in a nutshell, we were really honored to have Prof Gupta amidst us, for taking out time and creating this powerful space in deciphering the voice of women who become victims of sex trafficking, even in the present 21st century. We salute and gain inspiration from a leader and a remarkable achiever like her.