Date of Meeting: 11 March 2019

Meeting Organizer: Apne Aap Women Worldwide

ISJC Staff Present: Captain Swetha Vincent, Stephanie Marinelli, Captain Paula Mendes, Captain Eun Young In

Reporter: Captain Swetha Vincent

Which SDG does this topic cover?  SDG 5

Type of meeting: CSW Parallel Event - Panel Presentation

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Opening remarks came from Souma Shankar, a journalist who writes about politics and social issues.

Ruchira Gupta was the presenter for the session.

  • Ruchira is the founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide.
  • The organization’s mission is to “…end sex-trafficking by preventing inter-generational prostitution.”
  • Ruchira founded Apne Aap in 2002 as a response to the issue of human trafficking.
  • As a journalist travelling through the hill villages of Nepal, Ruchira noticed that there was a noticeable void of young women and girls between the ages of 15-35. Upon further inquiry, it became obvious that there was a supply chain from Nepal to Mumbai, India. Most of women and girls were being trafficked to Mumbai’s Red-Light district.
  • Once Ruchira was able to locate and communicate with the women in the brothels, she realized it was a monumental task. The fight for freedom would be much harder because there were pimps, brothel managers, landlords, muscle men, and police. Any chance of escape for the women seemed nearly impossible.
  • Apne Aap’s Asset Based Community Development approach stemmed from repeated conversations with women who were prostituted.
  • When the prostituted women were asked about their dreams there were four which surfaced repeatedly – education for their daughters, work, pension, justice which included protection and accountability in terms of prosecution.
  • Apne Aap recognized these four dreams as basic rights. Out of these dreams came the ten goals asset-based approach to ending intergenerational prostitution.
  • The goals are safe space, education, self-esteem, political knowledge, government identification, income generating programs, legal knowledge, and circle of at least nine friends.
  • Through establishing these 10 assets, the asset-based approach will allow organisations to measure and eventually, accomplish ending Human Trafficking
  • There have been 90 convictions for trafficking and that is an encouraging progress.
  • While the convictions are a step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done with the cultural mindset. Prostituted women are often rejected by the police and often escorted back to the brothel.
  • There is a need to teach girls to stand up to their families because many times, it’s the families who bring women into these situations.
  • Apne Aap represents about 25,000 women and girls; however, through partnerships they represent over a million women.


Some of the greatest challenges faced

  • There is often no paperwork for the survivors to qualify for the welfare system. Acquiring birth and caste certificates becomes an enormous challenge.
  • The women’s exit from red light area often results in violent backlash.
  • The current government in India is making significant changes to the welfare system and the progress so far is in great danger. People coming out of this exploitation will not be able to have sustainable lives which makes them vulnerable to being re-trafficked.
  • Police would refuse to report complaints of sexual abuse and sexual assault. Their response would be “This is your destiny, you’re a bad woman”
  • The changes made by the government also significantly impact education for the vulnerable girls.

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

  • There is a need for cohesive approach to freedom. It involves organisations like The Salvation Army that are willing to fight, a supportive government structure to sustain lives, an informed justice system, and a transformed mindset.
  • Good partnerships are important to making God’s justice a reality in this world.

Web links for more information

Twitter: @apneaap

Facebook: Apne Aap Women Worldwide

The Selling of Innocents – 1996 Documentary made by Ruchira Gupta on the largest Red Light district in India

Love Sonya – 2018 Film that depict two sisters’ involvement in the Red Light district of Mumbai, India

Tags: SDG5: Gender Equality