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About the NGO
Apne Aap Women's Collective
Shockingly, 16million women and children in India are victims of human trafficking. And Kamathipura, one of Asia’s largest and oldest red light area where AAWC are based, is home to about 10,000.
The statistics are unrelenting: 88 per cent are victims of trafficking, subjected to rape, torture and starvation; 70 per cent are HIV positive; and 40 per cent are homeless when not working as brothels are used exclusively for sexual activity.
Imagine a childhood with constant exposure to pornography, narcotics, gambling, sexual abuse, solicitation and corrupt law enforcement officers. Or growing up in a community where children often sleep under the bed or play unattended while their mothers are with clients.
No wonder when AAWC president Ashika Mehta took a career orientation workshop as an intern 14 years ago and asked the girls of Kamathipura what they wanted to be when they grew up, they told her they wanted to be “madams” – the most powerful person in their world.
Despite this, AAWC have been successful in their mission. As CEO Manju Vyas says: “None of our second generation beneficiaries have gone into prostitution. Many of our girls have helped their mothers quit the trade after getting a good job and have also helped their siblings gain an education.”
One unfortunate fuel of the sex trade in Kamathipura, indeed India, is myth – harmful beliefs held by customers who are mainly businessmen, tourists, or labourers.
Most think sex with children cures STIs and HIV/AIDS, that unprotected sex increases potency, and sex with a virgin restores masculinity – all of which increase the risk of young girls being coerced into prostitution and endangering their health.
Since inception AAWC have served over 4,000 women, young girls and toddlers with their education and skills training programmes.
The young girls they serve boast of Bachelors and Masters degree holders who now work in various fields – from accounting and hospitality to dance, photography and teaching.
One such is 28-year-old Kavita Jain (name changed), who studied hotel management, won a national culinary competition and became a chef at an international luxury hotel. Today she is a chef on an American cruise ship!
Support AAWC to secure the future of many more Kavitas.