Saturday, December 26, 2009


You must have heard...

Well we hear these things on a regular basis…by some who claim to know it all and a majority of others who have absolutely no clue what they are talking but would like to parrot what others say as they consider it as a dominant view point. But what is the reality.
Is prostitution which is also called by many “sex work” a choice of millions of women and children... who think this is a legitimate option? Is it exciting and glamorous offering easy money and wealth?
Is prostitution a deterrent to sexual crimes such as rape?
Well maybe facts can speak for themselves...

• After prostitution was legalized in Netherlands it is estimated that between 1996 and 2001 the number of children in prostitution increased by over 300% going from 4000 to 15000 and that 5000 of these children were trafficked from other countries.
• Not a single country across the world where prostitution is legalized have reported even a marginal decrease in crime against women or children
• Most studies across the world with prostituted women indicates a high percentage of physical injuries/abuses and psychological disorders ranging from verbal abuses, traumatic brain injuries(TBI), post traumatic stress disorders(PTSD) and mood disorders.
• Following legalization of prostitution in Victoria, Australia although the number of legal brothels doubled the greatest expansion was in illegal prostitution and in 1 year(1999) there was a 300% growth of illegal brothels(Sullivan and Jefferys,2001)
• Most studies show that prostituted women did not choose prostitution among a range of options such as medicine, law, teaching, nursing or politics. Their “options” were more in the realm of survival for themselves and their children.
• Over 70% prostituted women and children across the world were initiated into prostitution when they were less than 14yrs of age.
• Not a single prostituted person can control any transaction in prostitution. The person must do what the buyer wants to do. Research across the world shows that most women in prostitution report being subjected to acts that include burns with cigarettes, slashes with blades, being tied to bedposts, bodily mutilated, gang rape, sadism and various forms of sado machoism.
• Most prostituted women and children have little or no bargaining power on condom usage. Reports from across the world indicates that men would not hesitate to pay more for sex without condoms.
• More than 50% of prostituted women in countries were prostitution is legalized reported in a study that they do not think legal prostitution made them any safer from rape and physical assault( Farley et al.,2003)
• As an exploitative industry prostitution is controlled by the procurer, pimp, broker and madams where the prostituted women has little or no stake in her earnings. Most studies report in the first 3yrs of prostitution the person is in a debt trap paying up for the cost of her procurement.
• Most prostituted persons are subjected to repeated abortions, substance abuse, alcohol addiction, recurrent STI and RTI and vulnerability of being physically and psychologically assaulted.
• HIV/AIDS, STD’s, Cervical Cancer, TBI(traumatic brain injury) and all forms of psychological disorders are the various health issues that can effect most prostituted persons.
• Discussion with over 500 prostituted persons revealed that customers would always prefer different kinds of sexual services such as anal or oral intercourse which a prostituted person may or may not like. With limited time frame most acts of sex would be violent and rarely the consent of the person was sought regarding the act.

How is it possible to protect the health of someone whose “job” means that they will get raped on an average once a day?
How can something that is dehumanizing and violating become a dignified choice?
How can male violence be legitimized?
Does any of the above said appeal to us if our own daughter or sister made a choice to become a prostituted person.
So how does something that is so distasteful for majority of us,be supported and sanctioned, all because we are too preoccupied to collectively work towards dignified options and our afraid to address the male demand?
Can we be party to legitimize sexual slavery?

Friday, December 11, 2009

My journey in healing

There was a time in my life when I used to think if I meet God on the road, I may just kill him/her with my bare hands.
Witnessing the lives of hundreds of children who for no fault of theirs die untimely death…or struggle to fight a valiant battle against both internal and external demons just because some man or woman has destroyed everything that is precious about them -their “innocence” I had a overwhelming sense of betrayal and anger.
But as I got more and more involved in the lives of these children I realized this attitude of mine may have the most detrimental impact. So long as I concentrate on the pain and trauma I might miss out on their power and resilience. It was important for me to work on the immense potential of human minds to tide over adverse situations and emerge as positive persons who are capable of loving and sharing.
And thereon every child I met, who has been violated and abused I made sure the child understood that he/she is the one who is wronged and being a victim is not something one should be ashamed of. As the anger, pain, outrage and unbearable sense of betrayal poured out, the child was cleared of a burden of a lifetime. Through unconditional love, empathy and acceptance the child was able to see the beautiful person within. As we took the journey together the child was able to slowly regain dignity and a spirit to conquer all odds.
In that journey I also realized that God is not somebody I might meet on the road…he/she is everywhere, in me, around me and with me. And then I started feeling the God experience in this journey which not only touched the fragile soul of the child but also my angry soul.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some Responses

Hi Sunny
I think I am not the only one mandated to work for a cause. All of us can do it. I chose rescue of victims of trafficking as my mission maybe you can select one of the areas you had mentioned. I think it is all our collective efforts from different angles that will make a better world for all of us. Regarding your comment that by rescuing victims I am promoting rape(as all sexually deprived men will go berseck) all that I can say is we have over 94% of victims still living in those hellholes and I am afraid there is no reduction in sexual violence either here in India or elsewhere.

Dear Anonymous friend,
Prajwala is a income tax exempted registered non-profit organization. I did not have to pay any tax for all the TED contributions. It is just recently after I refused to pay bribe to a Income Tax (Exemption) officer that an assessment order has been passed that I am a commercial institution and that I should pay tax. The order has already been stayed. And we are right now filing an appeal against the order. You can check our website to know more on how to support us.

Thank you all for all your support and good wishes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


When two missing complaints were lodged in Koyyalagudem Police Station, Eluru,West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh nobody thought it will unravel a vicious network of traffickers who were luring hundreds of girls from all over the region in the name of jobs and selling them off to different red light areas in Mumbai and Pune.
Illa Anjayya’s daughter and another girl from the same village were promised jobs in a hostel in Hyderabad by one B Sayyama. When there was no news from his daughter for many days and no trace of Sayyamma,Anjayya lodged a missing complaint. In the meantime a relative of the other girl who was also taken reported that both the girls were actually taken to Mumbai and sold there for prostitution for a paltry sum of Rs 45,000/. The alert Inspector (who was trained on Anti Human Trafficking) of Koyyalagudem immediately registered a case. No sooner the case was registered the traffickers released both the girls who came back and related the untold miseries of many other girls from Andhra Pradesh who were enslaved in Mumbai red area. Two of the four traffickers were immediately arrested.
Sensing that a larger racket was involved Eluru range DIG Mr Mahesh Murlidhar Bhagwat,IPS and Mr Balakrishna, SP,West Godavari planned on a larger rescue operation. With the dynamic support of Addl DG Shri Sivanarayan and IG Shri S Umapathi who head the Anti Human Trafficking Unit in the state, Commisioner of Mumbai Shri Sivanandan was contacted who made all arrangements for the rescue operation in Mumbai with the support of IG,Admin Shri Venkateshan and DCP Sanjay Mahiti and DCP Shila Sahil.
Prajwala the nodal anti human trafficking organization for the state was involved right from the planning stages. Rescue Foundation a credible organization in Mumbai was contacted for all local support.
On 25th Nov 2009 a team of 7 police officers lead by Kovvur DSP Janaki Sharmila and supported by CI Rajeev Kumar, SI Srinivas, SI Shivaji, WPC Vijayashree,PC Durga Rao and PC Rafi left for Mumbai armed with search warrants. The AHTU represented by DSP Prakash Jadhav and SI Demulu and Prajwala team of six counselors lead by Ahmed Ali also joined the team in Mumbai.
On 27th Nov 2009 the Andhra team in collaboration with Maharashtra team(both police and NGO) rescued 19 girls from Dayananda Building,Pula St, Mumbai. Five Traffickers were also arrested.
As two girls belonged to West Bengal, Rescue Foundation our Mumbai NGO partner took care of these two girls. The Hon’ble Magistrate Ms Savita Chavan directed Prajwala to take care of further rehabilitation of victims.
Immediately after the rescue Prajwala provided a welcome kit consisting of two pairs of clothes, under garments, towel, blanket, toiletery( sanitary pads,tooth brush, paste, oil,comb etc) and cosmetics such as ponds cold cream/fair and lovely to each victim and arranged for a bus to transport back 17 victims to Andhra Pradesh.
Within 48hrs after being rescued the Dist Collector of West Godavari Ms Vani Prasad released an amount of Rs 10,000/victim as an immediate relief measure and assured the victims all support such as housing, ration card as a part of the rehabilitation package.
Rescue operations involving two states with such large numbers of victim could be only possible due to strong coordination and partnership between all stakeholders police, NGO’s, judiciary and district administration.
Today the victims are in Prajwala Shelter for further rehabilitation. For us in Prajwala, the challenge begins now!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some Respite...After a Storm

Finally we were able to purchase some land 60 kms from Hyderabad. It is a joyous and a scary moment. Joy for going one step further and a lot of fear in terms of how are we going to manage the construction of such a large place...over 600 a secure place.
Early on in my life, I was very clear that my conviction and beliefs are going to be the guiding principle for all that I do and facilitate. There have been times when I had to pause for a while contemplating whether it is such a good idea to stick on to your convictions. These were times when I refused financial support from a donor realizing the contradictory beliefs the donor had regarding commercial sexual exploitation or when I decided not to accept financial support from the government in order to maintain the organizational autonomy in advocacy. In all such times I was branded arrogant...headstrong and off course anti establishment.In some forums I am told there is a uncomfortable silence when my name is taken. I wondered in all those times am I rigid? am i insecure? am i incorrigible?
Something...somewhere in my soul supported my stand...gave it the strength it deserved to sustain. Today I have no regrets...
As today I am convinced that to ensure financial support for the organization I need not sell my soul...become project based rather than need strategies/programs where funding is ensured...parrot thoughts and ideas that I do not personally believe in...funding will find its way also through genuine conviction and commitment to make a difference in the lives of people I serve.
Buying the land through the timely support of Mr M H Dalmiya is one such testimony of truth prevailing against all odds recognizing commitment for the cause.
Hope all adversities

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Immunity for those fighting slavery

Today my doctor told me I need to have a surgery on my ear. As I sit back and mull about this...I realize this is one of the many irreversible prices I have to pay for being a activist fighting sex trafficking.
Years back goons beat me up damaging an ear...many years later I continue to face the aftermath of it in the form of partial deafness and a second surgery on the same ear.
Sometimes I wonder why there are only so few people who actually fight this form of modern day slavery...maybe one reason is the absolute lack of safety provided either by the state or the civil society.
Can we truly create a counter culture in this kind of hostile clan is more or less a extinct can we save this clan...should we atleast not talk about it...before we are clubbed with rhinos or hippos.