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Ruchira Gupta, (born January 7, 1964), is an Indian sex trafficking abolitionist, journalist and activist. She has worked for over 25 years to end sex trafficking and has been honored for her work by nations, governmental leaders, and organizations on a global scale. In 2002, she established Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a nongovernmental organization known as Apne Aap, which addresses women's rights and the eradication of human sex trafficking. Apne Aap has organized over 15,000 women and girls trapped in or at risk of prostitution in India. As of 2013[update], she continues to serve as the organization's president.
She works to expose the connection between trafficking and prostitution as well as to demand a societal shift which acknowledges that male demand for prostitution is what continues, furthers and perpetuates trafficking.
Journalism and UN Career
Gupta began her career as a journalist, working for The Telegraph Newspaper (Kolkata, India), The Sunday Observer (Kolkata, India), Business India Magazine (Delhi, India), and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) South Asia (Delhi, India). During her journalism career she extensively covered women's rights, armed struggles in the north-east of India, caste conflict, and minority issues. She won an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism in 1996 for field producing a documentary, The Selling of Innocents, on sex-trafficking from the villages of Nepal to the brothels of India. She continues to write extensively on sex trafficking and women's rights issues for Open Democracy, Pass Blue, CNN, Times of India, The Hindu, The Guardian, among others.
She then moved on to the United Nations, where she worked with the governments of Iran, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Kosovo, and the Philippines. She supported some of these countries to develop National Action Plans and laws against human trafficking. She has written two manuals on combating trafficking for law enforcement and prosecutors, supported by UNODC and UNIFEM. Gupta also served as a UNICEF contact in October 2000 for the first-ever gathering of Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors.
Her publications on trafficking include: a) Trafficking Responses in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia: Needs, Capacity assessment and Recommendations b) Trafficking in the Asia and Near East region: Problem analysis and Proposed framework for response; Kosovo plan of action to counter trafficking in persons; c) Manual for law-enforcement officers to confront Demand for Human trafficking.; d) Manual for prosecutors to confront human trafficking. Confronting the Demand to End human trafficking: A manual for law-enforcement officers (2002), supported by UNIFEM, was the first manual in the world to teach police officers how to tackle human trafficking by investigating and prosecuting traffickers and clients instead of victims.
After completing her Emmy award-winning documentary, The Selling of Innocents, Ruchira founded Apne Aap Women Worldwide, where she has served as President since 2002. Through her work at Apne Aap, Gupta has given voice to the voiceless by organizing victims and survivors from denotified tribes (labeled criminal tribes by the British), who are trapped in inter-generational prostitution, into Self-empowerment groups. Through these groups, women and girls access education, livelihood training, legal protection and safe housing; and also campaign for changes in the Indian Law. Gupta's leadership in organizing women to campaign for legal change resulted in trafficking being made a penal offense for the first time in Indian history, through the Criminal Law Amendment Act.
Her work in organizing denotified tribes has resulted in two red-light areas in Forbesgunge, Bihar shrinking from 72 brothels to 15 brothels, and 17 to one. Gupta continues to ensure women are able to transform their places of exploitation into a safe spaces for education, job training, loan access and legal protection. Along with staff from Apne Aap, Gupta petitioned on bahalf of survivors of trafficking to the Patna High Court to take action against traffickers and protect victims. On March 10, 2013 a notice was issued by the court to the Bihar government to report back on actions taken against trafficking. Apne Aap has also challenged police corruption and is campaigning for police reform after a staff member from the Nat Denotified Tribe was wrongfully arrested after exposing a trafficking ring. Apne Aap continues to campaign for police reform across India. They also appealed to the National Human Rights Commission of India to challenge police atrocities against Apne Aap staff members who are from denotified tribes.
As part of Gupta's activist career, she also organizes Survivor Conferences and produces the Redlight Dispatch, a newspaper written by and for victims and survivors of prostitution. She has addressed the UN General Assembly two times., the UN Security Council once, and the UN Human Rights Council once to advocate for policies and mechanisms to support victims of trafficking. Her leadership in this area was referenced by feminist activist, Catherine MacKinnon, in her speech: Trafficking, Prostitution and Inequality.
Gupta has testified before the United States Senate, advocating for the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and lobbied with other activists at the United Nations for the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. This resulted in the first U.N. effort to address demand for trafficking .
Gupta strives to educate the next generation of activists on best practices in combating trafficking. In this respect, she has designed modules on understanding, and tackling, human trafficking for Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi. Since 2012, she has designed and taught courses at New York University's Center for Global Affairs on "Movement Building around Sex Trafficking." Ruchira also teaches courses on modern day slavery at Seton Hall University.
Recognition and Awards
In 2009, Gupta was the recipient of the Clinton Global Citizen Award for Commitment to Leadership in Civil Society by the Clinton Foundation, established by Bill Clinton, former President of the United States. In 2010, she was chosen to serve as a member of the organization's leadership program, known as CGI Lead. President Clinton created the program to recognize and educate the next generation of global leaders and prepare them to effectively address and take action on the world's most pressing issues. Young leaders chosen from throughout the world include corporate executives, public servants, social entrepreneurs, and NGO managers from among the public, private, and civil sectors.
In 2007, Gupta was honored with the Abolitionist Award by the House of Lords, which is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. She also received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her documentary, The Selling of Innocents. Other awards she has won include Times Now Amazing Indians awards: Stree Shakti category (2012); Godfrey Phillips Bravery National Award (2012); ‘Sera Bangali’ honor by Ananda Bazar Patrika (2012); Alumni Achievers Award, presented by Loretto College Alumnae Association (2012); Healthy Masculinities Award, presented by Men Can Stop Rape (2012); Karmaveer Puraskaar Civil Society-Trafficking presented by iCONGO (2011); UNA-NY’s Women Who Care Award (2011); Abolitionist Award, presented by Nomi Network (2010).
Gupta sat on the Steering Committee for the Planning Commission of the Government of India for the Eleventh and Twelfth Five-Year Plans, once for Women and Children and once for Social Welfare. She was also on the working group of the Ministry of Women and Children. She has served on the advisory boards of Asia Society, New York, Cents for Relief, US, Nomi Network, US, Ricky Martin Foundation, and Vital Voices, Washington DC. Gupta has been honored at the White House for her work to combat sex trafficking. Her testimony to the United States Senate had a direct role in the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.
In 2011 Lucy Liu released her 20 minute directorial debut on human trafficking, Meena, which tells the story of a rescue mission to help a young woman save her daughter from the cycle of the sex trade. Meena Haseena was sold to the sex trade by her uncle at the age of 8 years old, and this film portrays her alliance with Ruchira Gupta and their effort to rescue her daughter from the brothel she only recently escaped herself. Her fight to save her daughter Naina, who had been taken from her at birth, and forced into prostitution is the heart of this film and is based on the first chapter of the book Half the Sky, written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
In 2012 Ruchira Gupta was featured in the documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide premiering on PBS October 1 and 2. The series highlights women and girls living in oppression who are bravely fighting to challenge it. The Half the Sky PBS TV series is produced by Show of Force along with Fugitive Films.
On 25 of September 2014, In Delhi, the capital territory of India, Ruchira Gupta among 35 other women of distinction, were honored by the All Ladies League (ALL) for their various achievements. The ALL is the country's first all women chamber which held its Grassroots Women of the Decade Achievers Awards. Awardees hailed from over 16 different states across the country and within the corners of India.
On 8 of March, Gupta gave the keynote speech at the NGO Committee on the Status of Women New York (NGOCSW/NY) Forum at the Apollo, to commence the start of the UN CSW 59 Consultation Day. And on the following day, 9 of March 2015, she was awarded the 2015 NGOCSW/NY Woman of Distinction Award for her tireless efforts to end sex trafficking by emphasizing the link between trafficking and prostitution laws and lobbying policy makers to shift blame from victims to perpetrators.
- Documentaries that she has worked on include
- Paul Merton in India, BBC, Channel 5, UK, 2008
- Land of the Missing Children - Series 9 of Unreported World, Channel 4, UK, 2005, on teenage sex-slavery in India.
- Saffron Warriors - Series 3 of Unreported World, Channel 4, UK, 2003 on Nazi style Hindu fundamentalism in India
- Rape for Profit. (Life in the Mumbai Brothel): Newsnight, BBC-1999
- Kali’s Smile: BBC Radio 4, documentary on role of Gods and goddesses in Indian popular culture. 1998
- Shiva's wedding: BBC Radio 4, documentary on role of Gods and goddesses in Indian popular culture. 1998
- The Selling of Innocents. (On sex-trafficking from Nepal to Mumbai, India): Documentary screened on CBC and HBO. Awarded the Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism by the US National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1997 and used by NGOs, activists, government agencies as educational material to combat trafficking. -1997
- Zero Hour. A 13 episode Indian Quiz show with Parliamentarians. BITV 1994
- The Brotherhood. The RSS, BBC, 1993.
Scripted Films of Recognition
- Move to End Violence: Building Movement for Social Change. Advisory Committee Member
- Steering Committee Member and contributor to Report on Empowerment of Women and Development of Children for the Eleventh Plan
- Government of India, Planning Commission (Social Justice and Welfare Division, 2011)
Articles by Ruchira Gupta
- Arunachalam Muruganantham, Time 2014
- A Temporary End to a Tour of the Indian Women's Movement, The New York Times 2014
- In Kolkata Reminders of Why We Help the Last Girl, The New York Times 2014
- A Constant Battle Against the Sale of Bodies in Bihar, The New York Times 2014
- In Jaipur, New Feminists Are Born, The New York Times 2014
- Notes on a Tour of the Indian Women’s Movement, The New York Times 2014
- Why Sexuality Laws Need Change India Today 2013
- Samman ki kasauti, Jansatta 2013
- Empowering from Within Will Bring True Societal Change The Sunday Guardian 2013
- Ministre des Droits de Femmes, Rencontre avec Ruchira Gupta qui lutte contre la traite sexuelle en Inde 2013
- A Tale of Two Citizens, The Hindu 2013
- In 21st century India, Perna women are forced into prostitution after marriage, India Today 2013
- Damascus Diary, Outlook 2013
- Our Very Presence in Public Places Angers Men, Outlook 2013
- "Victims Blamed in India's Rape Culture, CNN (2013)
- Delhi Rape Trial over, Not Questions on Cops, The Telegraph 2013
- Nayay ka Nakhlistan, Jansatta 2013
- Youn Hinsa ki Jaden, Jansatta 2013
- No Change In Culture of Rape As Law Remains on Paper The Telegraph 2013
- Hindi Dainik, Swet Patr, Dewghar Publicationm, Glatkar ki Sanskriti: Nitigat kshetron me Pahal Karne ki Awashyakta 2013
- Survivors of Prostitution Changed the Law in India Huffington Post 2013
- Love, Sex and Marriage: A bulwark for unwed mothers. The Hindu (2013)
- ''This is not about Revenge. Hindustan Times, New Delhi (2013)
- Gloria Steinem Tells Ruchira Gupta about Women and Violence The Telegraph 2013
- ''Punish Trafficker, Safeguard Prostitute. The Telegraph, Calcutta (2013)
- Criminal Justice: Police reforms have to begin with accountability. The Caravan (2013)
- Challenging India's Rape Culture. The Hindu (2013)
- ''The Unnoticed Rapes. Youth Ki Awaaz (2013)
- India: Examining the Motivation for Rape. Open Democracy (2013)
- ''Saviour of the Second Sex: Hillary Clinton is not Afraid to Support Uncomfortable Issues. India Today (2012)
- Where Rape is Seen as Violence. The Hindu (2012)
- India: Breaking the Supply Chain of Human Beings Open Democracy (2012)
- ''Debating the Feminist Approach to Sex Work. The Hindu, Kolkata (2012)
- Even Obama is Talking about Trafficking, When will We? The Telegrapph, Calcutta (2012)
- Legalising has not Helped Globally. The Hindu (2012)
- Occupy Wall Street: What would Gandhi say? The Guardian (2011)
- ''To Let/For Sale? Legalizing Prostitution is Not the Answer: Nab the Traffickers. Outlook India (2009)
- The Failure of Anti-Trafficking Efforts. Wall Street Journal (2009)
- "Sex Trafficking and Why Prostitution should not be Legalized." Mikeldunham (2009)
- "Ricky Martin abandera la lucha contra el abuso infantil en la Iniciativa Clinton." Soitues actualidad (2009)
- In God's Hands. Asia Now (2004)
- ''Time Bombs the Mekong call for a Regional Solution. Asiaweek (1999)
- Of the Bombay disease, Nepal brothels and women’s lib.Asian Age (1997)
- Children for Sale. Asia Week (1996)
- Kashmir: The Point of No Return? Business India (1993)
- Ten Days that Shook Bihar. Business India (1992)
- A myth shattered.Business India (1992)
- Mandal Commission: Pandora's Box'."Business India (1990)
- Nepal: New Equations?Business India (1990)
- Kashmir: A shattered economy.Business India (1990)
- The Bully Boy Blockade.The Sunday Observer (1989)
- The Hindu Hand.The Sunday Observer (1989)
- Orissa's Minister gives Women Jobs in Exchange for 'Favours'. The Sunday Observer (1988)
- Humiliation in the Marriage Market.The Sunday Observer (1988)
- Bribed Gorkhas Carry on Struggle.The Sunday Observer (1988)
- "Now, Krishna Temple in Lenin’s land." The Sunday Observer, Calcutta, Vol. VIII, No. 30, p. 1 (1988)
- "Patna Air Chief pays for child’s anti-Rajiv joke"The Sunday Observer, Vol. VIII, No. 30, p.2 (1988)
- "Hopes Soar in Darjeeling"The Sunday Observer (1988)
- "The Jan Morcha is not a Party It is a Movement for Highlighting Issues, for Struggle"The Sunday Observer (1988)
- "Musical Soiree’ Plan Sparks Discord in Left-Front"The Sunday Observer (1988)
- "Humiliation in the Marriage Market"The Sunday Observer (1988)
- "Dhanbad Mafia Don Likely to Go Scot Free"The Sunday Observer (1988)
- "Conggoons Rule the Roost in Tripura"The Sunday Observer (1988)
- I will Pick Up Arms Again.The Sunday Observer (1988)
- Bihar CM on his way out?The Sunday Observer (1988)
- "Roop Kanwar Was not Very Religious"The Sunday Observer (1987)
- Non-Tribals flee Meghalaya.The Sunday Observer (1987)
- "Shreeram Gas Leak Judgement; Carbide Opens a Pandora’s Box"The India Post, Bombay (1987)
- SC Verdict will Affect 10,000 Security Guards.The India Post, Bombay (1987)
- Alarming Rise in Infection Cases.The Telegraph (1986)
- "1792 File Papers for Nepal Polls"The Telegraph, Vol.IV, No.274 (1986)
- "Bonus for the Readers"Puja Special (1985)
- Trafficking in the ANE Region: Problem Analysis and Proposed Framework for USAID Response, June 2004
- Gender and Modernity (2011)
- Report of the Steering Committee on Empowerment of Women and Development of Children for the Eleventh Plan, Published by the Planning Commission for the Government of India
- Training Manual For Prosecutors On Confronting Human Trafficking, Published by the UNODC (2008)
- Not a Choice, Not a Job: Exposing the Myths about Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, by Janice Raymond, Published by Potomac Books (2013)
- Town of Love, by Anne Otsby, Published by Spinifex (2012)
- Big Porn, edited by Abigail Bray and Melinda Tankard Resit, Published by Spinifex (2011)
- All that Is Bitter and Sweet by Ashley Judd, Published by Ballatine Books (2011)
- Half the Sky:Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Published by Random House (2009)
- Trafficking, Prostitution, and Inequality, by Catharine A. MacKinnon, Published by Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (2009)
- Strengthening the Law Enforcement Response in India Against Trafficking in Persons Through Training and Capacity Building, by Dr. Sarala Gopalan and Ms. Laura Livingston, Published by UNODC (2008)
- Training Manual for Prosecutors On Confronting Human Trafficking, by Dr. P.M. Nair, Dr. Geeta Sekhon, Ms. Swasti Rana, Mr. Varghese John, Published by UNODC (2008)
- Human Trafficking A Global Challenge In Our Backyard, Hosted by UNODC at New York University, 30 November 2006
- Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective, Written by Louise Shelley, Published by Cambridge University Press, 29 July 2010
- Female Sex Trafficking in Asia: The Resilience of Patriarchy in a Changing World, Written by Vidyamali Samarasinghe, Published by Routledge, October 12, 2012
- A Constant Battle Against the Sale of Bodies in Bihar, Written by Gloria Steinem, Published by The New York Times, 14 February 2014
- Women in India: How Free? How Equal?, Written By Kalyani Menon-Sen and A K Shiva Kumar, Commissioned by the Office of the Resident Coordinator of India, 8 January 2001
- Globalization and Third World Women: Exploitation, Coping, and Resistance, Written by Ms. Isidor Wallimann and Ligaya Lindio-McGovern, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 28 January 2013
- Gupta, Curie Review 2014
- The Selling of Innocents: An Interview with Ruchira Gupta Your Story 2013
- How Speaking with Ruchira Gupta Changed my World View, Parent Magazine 2013
- Ruchira Gupta: A Way to End Sex Trafficking. UNC Global (2012)
- Ruchira Gupta 2007
- TED. Theme: No Cliches here 2012
- Remarks to the 63rd Session of the UN GA. Interactive Thematic Dialogue on Taking Collective Action to End Human Trafficking, New York 13 May 2009
- Second Panel Addressing the UN General Assembly 2009, “Articulating a global plan of action: Drawing upon practice at the national and regional level”
- Gloria Steinem, Ruchira Gupta on Sex Trafficking; 4 April 2013 at Smith College Garrison Hall Northampton, Massachusetts
- We Were Trafficked, Hear Our Voices: UN New York, 19 October 2009, Four Survivors Explain Why the Voices of the Victims Must Be Heard
- Press Conference on Human Trafficking by High Commissioner for Human Rights, 21 October 2009
- UN Voluntary Trust Fund For Victims of Trafficking in Persons Especially Woman and Children, NY 4 Nov 2010
- United Nations Thematic Debate on Human Trafficking, 3 June 2008
- The Essential Gloria Steinem, Jaipur Literature Festival, 17 Jan 2014
- Security Council Arria Forumula Meeting: Implications of Human Trafficking for International Peace and Security, 19 July 2009
- Ruchira Gupta speaking at the plenary 'Women for sale', 5 Dec 2012
- Success Against Slavery: Strategies for the Future and Promising Practices in International Programming, 28 Oct 2008
- Lions Clubs 97th International Convention, Toronto Canada July 8 2014
- Harvard Gender Violence Project, Gender Justice and Criminal Law Reform Conference, 12 July 2013
- International Trafficking in Women and Children, Presented to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs; Senate Hearing 106-705, 22 February and 4 April 2000
- UN General Assembly Human Rights Council, 15th Session, Report on the Seminar: A Human Rights Approach to Combating Human Trafficking: Challenges and Opportunities, Implementing the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, 15 September 2010
- Human Trafficking: A Global Challenge in Our Own Backyard, Hosted by the UNODC at New York University, 30 November 2006
- Keynote Speech at the UN NGO Committee on the Status of Women New York (NGOCSW/NY) Forum Consultation Day 59 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, 8 March 2015
- Ruchira Gupta (Editor) As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader Rupa Publications. India Pvt. Ltd., 2014. New Delhi.
- Nai Duniya 2013
- The Fallen Women of Prerna India Today 2013
- Banjaron aur Janjatiyon ke saath insaaf ho, Swaraj Khaar 2013
- CNN Reports on Latest Assault and Gang Rape
- Kristof, Nicholas D.; and WuDunn, Sheryl. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Vintage Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0-307-38709-7
- McCormick, Patricia. Sold, Hyperion Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-7868-5171-3
- Solomon, Rivka. That Takes Ovaries!: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts, Three Rivers Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-609-80659-3
- Morris, Holly. Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for Women Who Are Changing the World, Villard, 2006. ISBN 978-0-375-76063-1
- Jain, Niharika and Tara Suri, A Lack of Transparency, The Harvard Crimson, 2010. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/11/2/apne-aap-women-organization/
- Shuyun, Sun. Ten Thousand Miles without a Cloud, Harper Perennial, 2004. ISBN 978-0-00-712974-4
- Hayward, Ruth. Breaking the Earthenware Jar: Lessons from South Asia to End Violence Against Women and Girls, United Nations, 2000. ISBN 978-92-806-3574-4
- Jahanbegloo, Ramin. India Revisited: Conversations on Contemporary India, Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-568944-0
- Surti, Aabid. In the Name of Rama, Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, 2003. ASIN B004I90I88
- Shelly, Louise. Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective, George Mason University, 2010. ISBN 978-0-521-11381-6
- "Ruchira Gupta, Founder of Apne Aap, India" (PDF). United Nations. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
- "Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex". Pass Blue.
- "Training Manual for Prosecutors on Confronting Human Trafficking" (PDF). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
- "Trust Women". Trust Women.
- "Press Release". United Nations.
- "Speech Text" (PDF). United Nations.
- "Speech Text" (PDF). United Nations.
- "Affiliations". Rose Collar Foundation.
- "Ruchira Gupta". Half the Sky.
- "Global Citizen Awards 2009". Clinton Foundation.
- "UK award for anti-trafficking activist Ruchira Gupta" (PDF). India eNews. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
- "5 Years of ANHAD: 2003-2008". ANHAD. 6 September 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Apne Aap Women Worldwide
- Ruchira Gupta at the Internet Movie Database
- Ruchira Gupta addresses the White House
- Indian Express, July 2009 --Red Light Despatch-the newsletter for women in prostitution by women in prostitution
- Human Trafficking by Louise Shelley, Cambridge University Press
- To Let/For Sale? by Ruchira Gupta