Apne Aap is a 501(c)3 Indian grassroots organization working against sex trafficking.
It has supported more than 20,000 prostituted and at-risk
girls, women and their family members since its foundation in 2002. It has official consultative status with the United Nations.
It enrolls children of prostituted women into school, and helps women
exit prostitution by getting government IDs, accessing welfare like food,
housing and health care and filing cases against traffickers.
Our vision is of a world where no girl or woman is bought or sold, where each girl or woman can realize her full potential
Our Theory of Change is inspired by the twin Gandhian principles of:
Ahimsa (non-violence): Resisting violence to the self and to the other
Antyodaya (upliftment of the last person): Antyodaya's last person is the prostituted girl or woman
Our mission is to end sex trafficking
We dismantle the system of prostitution by:
Increasing the choices before the weakest and most marginalized girls and women from red-light areas, including those trapped in intergenerational prostitution, and lower-caste communities. We offer them access to education, healthcare, livelihood skills, legal protection, citizenship documents, government subsidies and friendship circles.
We aim at dismantling the purchase of sex through policy and social change
Apne Aap was co-founded by 22 women from a red-light district in Mumbai, India, with a shared vision of a world where no woman would be bought or sold.
The women were the subjects of Ruchira Gupta's Emmy-winning documentary, The Selling of Innocents, on the trafficking of girls and women from Nepal to India. They formed a bond during the making of the documentary in 1996 and found in each other the strength to rebel against their condition.
After the shoot was over, the group continued to meet in parks. The respect they received when acting as a group and the strength of their collective bargaining inspired them to create an organization to further their vision. In 2002, Apne Aap was registered as an NGO in Mumbai.
Apne Aap's ambition and impact have grown steadily since then. We have reached out to other women trapped in prostitution and organized self-empowerment programs in Bihar, Delhi and West Bengal, where we currently work with local communities.
Though the 22 co-founders have all passed Ã¢â‚¬â€ of hunger, suicide or of AIDS-related complications,their vision lives on. Self-empowerment groups across the country now meet at Apne Aap community centers that serve as safe spaces where thousands of girls and women come together, access education, improve livelihood options and receive legal rights training.
1 Million Meals will serve 1.1 million meals & hygiene products to 2,500 women and 7,500 children in the red-light areas of Kolkata, Delhi & Bihar. We are providing & will continue to provide weekly food ration & hygiene packs of masks, soap, basic medicine & sanitary pads for 10,000 adult women & their children. This is 20,000 meals a day, ie 1100000 meals for lockdown and beyond. This will ensure basic survival till the government comes up with a plan beyond the lockdown. We began on 27 March with 800 families and had to scale up to 2500 families.
We have distributed 3.2 Million Meals to 52,000 women and children from March and are continuing our #1MillionMeals to help the most vulnerable who have been affected by Covid19 and Cyclone Amphan in Bengal and floods in Bihar and Assam.
The project ensures the survival of 10000 children and women during the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond, by preventing starvation. It gives time to work with partner organizations, friends, well-wishers & the government to develop a long-term strategy to rehabilitate the victims of sex-trafficking. The socio-economic impact of the crisis is going to continue and stretch into the future. We are already planning projects for transit housing, loans and training for the women and their children.
Goals this year
1 Million Meals is our most important goal. We have surpassed our previous goal and plan to scale our operations to make this 5 Millions and help the Last Girl during these difficult times.
Ruchira Gupta is the founder-president of Apne Aap Women Worldwide and Apne Aap International. She is a social justice activist, feminist campaigner and journalist. She is also a professor at New York University and a Distinguished Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.
For over three decades, Ruchira has been campaigning and working for a world where no girl or woman is bought or sold. She pioneered gender-sensitive interventions to end intergenerational prostitution among denotified tribes in India's Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and West Bengal. She has helped in the introduction and shaping of anti-trafficking policies and laws across the globe, including the Indian anti-trafficking law.
Ruchira's awards include the French Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur; Litterarum Humaniorum Doctors, Smith College; Clinton Global Citizen Award and Sera Bangali. Her documentary, The Selling of Innocents, on the trafficking of girls from Nepal to India, won an Emmy.
Ruchira participated in discussions that led to the passage of the UN Protocol to end human trafficking, particularly women and child trafficking, and testified before the US Senate for the passage of the first US Trafficking Victim Protection Act. She has also spoken in the French Assembly, Icelandic Parliament, South African Parliament and Indian Parliament for survivor-friendly laws.
Taking survivors to speak with her at the UN General Assembly and to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, she successfully advocated for the creation of the Trafficking Fund for Survivors at the UN Office for Drugs and Crime.
Ruchira contributed to the creation of the National Plan of Action against trafficking in Kosovo and the UN Secretary General's Zero-Tolerance Policy on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. She has worked with UNAIDS, WHO, UN, UNIFEM and UNICEF in Nepal, Thailand, Kosovo, Iran and the US.
She has designed and currently teaches courses on human trafficking at New York University. She is also a part of the board of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution and The Listen Charity, and the Expert Advisory Council of The Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.
Ruchira was on the Indian Planning Commission's steering committee for women and children for the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans. She helped develop India's first child protection framework and offered recommendations for an inter-ministerial approach to trafficking.
She has edited the anthologies, River of Flesh & Other Stories: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction and As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader. She wrote for the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime the first manuals for police and prosecutors on human trafficking. The manuals are still used by law enforcement agencies in India.
Before founding Apne Aap, Ruchira worked for various UN agencies across the world. During her 14-year career as a journalist, she worked for The Telegraph, The Sunday Observer, Business India and the BBC. She is the editor of a journal published by SAGE, Antyajaa: Indian Journal of Women and Social Change.
Ruchira has a master's degree in English Literature.
Awards and Distinctions
National Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Legion d'honneur), Government of France (2017)
Doctorate in Humane Letters, Honoris Causa (LHD), Smith College, USA (2016)
Quami Ekta Award, All India Quami Ekta Manch, Kolkata, India (2016)
Visionary Woman, Visionary Women, California, USA (2016)
Woman of Distinction, NGO Committee on the Status of Women/NY, USA (2015)
Key to the city of Portland, Mayor Michael Brennan, Portland, Maine, USA (2015)
Shrestha Samman, Rotary International, India (2015)
Named paver at the Anne Frank Memorial in Idaho, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence & Idaho Human Rights Education Center, Idaho, USA (2014)
Amazing Indians, Stree Shakti category, Times Now, New Delhi, India (2012)
National Bravery Award, Godfrey Phillips, New Delhi, India (2012)
Sera Bangali, Ananda Bazar Patrika, Kolkata, India (2012)
Healthy Masculinities, Men Can Stop Rape, Washington DC, USA (2012)
Alumni Achievers Award, Loreto College Alumnae Association, Kolkata, India (2012)
Karmaveer Puraskaar Civil Society-Trafficking, iCONGO, International Congregation of NGOs, India (2011)
Women Who Care, United Nations Association of New York, USA (2011)
Abolitionist Award, Nomi Network, New York, USA (2010)
Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership of Civil Society, Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton Foundation), New York, USA (2009)
Abolitionist Award, UK House of Lords (2007)
Emmy, News and Documentary, Outstanding Investigative Journalism, US Academy for TV Arts and Sciences, New York, USA (1996)
Boards and committees
Trustee, Listen Charity (Listen Campaign), London
Vice-President of Board, Coalition Against Prostitution (CAP), France
Board Director, Coalition against Trafficking in Women, International, USA
Board Director, Coalition against Trafficking in Women, Asia-Pacific
Board President, Apne Aap International, USA
Advisory Committee member, NoVo Foundation, Move to End Violence
Advisory Board Member, Indo-European Foundation for New Dialogues
Advisory Board Member ID2020, USA
Advisory Board Member, Sold (the movie)
Global Advisory Council Member, Vital Voices
LEAD Member, Clinton Global Initiative (2011-2016)
Member, Human Exploitation Working Group for the New York City Mayor's Office (2010-2013)
Steering Committee, Social Welfare and Disabilities, 12th Five Year Plan, Planning Commission, Government of India ( 2011)
Steering Committee, Women and Child, 11th Five Year Plan, Planning Commission, Government of India (2006)
Working Group Member on Child Protection of the Ministry of Women and Children, India (2008-2007)
Advisory Board, Asia Society (2007-2006)
Advisory Board, Polaris Project, (2006-2004)
Advisory Board Member Ricky Martin Foundation,
Advisory Board, Cents for Relief
Member, Task Force of the National Human Rights Commission, Government of India