Grant Status $7230 needed

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India has a huge population of people living in poor socio-economic conditions. Almost all the cities in India are home to several red light areas, where numerous brothels are located and sex exploitation continues. It is estimated that over 3 million trafficked women and girls are forced into prostitution in India. The exact number is impossible to quantify, as many women often shift from one area to another. An entire commercial industry exists in these areas comprising of people who benefit financially from the sex trade: landlords / landladies, pimps, traffickers, shopkeepers, clients, moneylenders, partners of the women or husbands and clubs.

Sonagachi and Munshiganj are such red light areas in the city of Kolkata. Sonagachi is one of the largest red light areas of South Asia whereas Munshigaj is one of the oldest in the city of Kolkata. Both the areas have innumerable houses which are not even 100 sq.ft of area where not only the woman are sexually exploited everyday, the entire family with children stay there. Children have to make for the evenings often on the streets indulging themselves in different abusive acts or doing nothing as their mothers/sisters were forced to participate in sex trade in those small rooms. Thus children of these prostituted women grow up in an environment that is extremely vulnerable and they face constant stigma and discrimination, which results in getting isolated in mainstream schools and eventually getting dropped out. Moreover, as the girls grow up, the traffickers and the buyers create demand for pulling them into sex trade. The mothers as they themselves grow older with diminishing demand, has to get the daughters married off even as early as 13 or 14. Several times, the mothers had to succumb to the demand of traffickers and buyers and the daughters get trafficked into inter-generational prostitution.

In order to provide them with a safe space away from abusive environment of red light area and provide with conducive educational atmosphere, Apne Aap tied up with renowned educational institution in Kolkata and keep the girls in residential school facilities to help them finish their schools and colleges.

The 7,360 requested for the project supports the hostel fees and school fees for the 10 girls


Apne Aap Women Worldwide is an Indian non-government organization working to empower girls and women to resist and end sex trafficking among the most marginalized caste communities, some of them being labeled criminal tribes by the British, now known as De-Notified Tribes and suffering from inter-generational prostitution. Since 2002, we have enrolled more than 3230 at risk or trafficked girls, women and their family members within the ApneAap network. These women and girls together with Apne Aap have organized and being part of different rally, campaign and advocacy initiatives to gain access to safe space, education, government IDs and subsidies, bank accounts, legal support and livelihood linkages. We have been able to turn brothels into non-brothels by women throwing the pimps and Johns out. Our group has been able to influence a change in the Indian anti-trafficking law. We do this by trying to reach, support and give voice to the "last" girl, who is poor, female, low-caste, of colour/certain ethnicity/minority religion/tribal group and a teenager.

We work in 16 sites across India. These sites are either red-light areas or ghettoes of caste-communities of formerly nomadic groups. We enrol a girl or a woman in the ApneAap network through house to house visits by our community mobilizers who are often survivors. Then we invite network members to meet in the safe space within the community centres where we run a small classroom. Here we organize the women to sit in circles, share stories, fill forms for government documents and subsidies, develop campaigns and learn a skill.

Over a period of five years we support an at-risk or trafficked girl/woman gain ten assets, which are

1. Safe space 2. Education 3.Self-confidence 4.Political power 5.Government IDs 6.Government subsidies (food, housing, loans, health care) 7.Savings and loans 8.Livelihood linkages 9.Legal justice

As a girl or a woman gains these 10 assets, not only does she make the practical gains of becoming a documented citizen and therefore having access to the government subsidies of food, clothing shelter, health care and loans, but also the intangible gains of self confidence, political bargaining power and access to safe space and friendship networks. These enables her to hold on to the assets of loans, livelihood, continued education and legal protection as well as demand improvement in the level of these assets like higher education, bigger loans, better health care etc.

Apne Aap has realized the immense potential of residential school as a preventive strategy against sex-trafficking. It runs a residential school in Bihar in partnership with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the nodal government body for education.

In Kolkata, it partners with Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission, an ace educational institution for putting girls into their residential school.


The residential school has proven to be one of the most effective strategies to prevent inter-generational prostitution. We have helped 10 girls from red light area finish High School and go to college in Bihar. We have been able to help 300 plus girls from at risk communities finish their middle school. This has enabled the girls as well as their mothers to dream for a future apart from getting forced into sex-trafficking or child marriage.

Team Credentials

Ruchira Gupta is the Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an Indian grassroots organization that works to end sex trafficking by increasing choices for at-risk girls and women. Over her 25-year career, she has striven to highlight the link between prostitution laws and trafficking and to lobby policy-makers to shift blame and punishment from victims to perpetrators.

She is the recipient of the UN NGO CSW Woman of Distinction Award, the Clinton Global Citizen Award, the UK House of Lords' Abolitionist Award and the Emmy Award. She has designed and taught courses on human trafficking for New York University's School of Global Affairs and Seton Hall Law School. Gupta is the editor of an Indian collection of Gloria Steinem's works, As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader. Her Emmy-winning film "The Selling of Innocents" inspired the creation of Apne Aap.

Prior to founding Apne Aap, Gupta worked for the United Nations in various capacities in 12 countries for over 10 years. She has addressed the UN General Assembly on the topic of human trafficking and sits on the boards of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and the Coalition Against Prostitution International and is an advisor to the Clinton Foundation as a member of CGI Lead.

Apne Aap Women Worldwide is a 13-year-old Indian non-government organization founded by 22 women in prostitution from Kamathipura in Mumbai and journalist, Ruchira Gupta with a vision to create a world in which no woman is bought or sold and a mission to end sex-trafficking by dismantling the prostitution system. We work in 16 sites in 4 states of India-Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal.