|Kranti does not merely aim to help trafficked girls or the daughters of sex workers, it is transforming them into the leaders of tomorrow
Robin Chaurasiya and Trina Talukdar are the founders of Kranti, an anti-trafficking organisation that works with the daughters of sex workers to transform their lives and, in the process, to revolutionise the role of women in Indian society.
Here Robin tells her story.
|ACTIVIST STATEMENT: ROBIN CHAURASIYA
It all started in a one-bedroom apartment in the suburbs of Mumbai when two girls had an idea for how to change the world by revolutionising society's perception of women.
I was born of Indian parents in Los Angeles - bred, soiled and soaked in the United States of America, and all its culture of freedom, rights and emancipation.
In the summer 2008, I volunteered for six months with an anti-trafficking NGO based in Mumbai. During this time, I lived, ate, slept and had intense, all night long discussions with more than 60 girls who had been trafficked into the sex trade in Mumbai and subsequently rescued in raids by the organisation I was volunteering with.
However, after rescuing them the NGO did nothing to empower the girls to build a successful life for themselves. Those who were old enough to remember their homes were repatriated, essentially returning them to the same vulnerable situation they were originally trafficked from.
I met girls who had been re-trafficked four times over. Some were married off to older men who came from rural India to Mumbai to marry. And the best of the three evils was when the girls were taught a skill, like embroidery or pickle making, to enable them to make a subsistence living for themselves.
I travelled India the following year visiting many anti-trafficking NGOs and discovered that they all had similar programmes. I was frustrated by the absence of psychological support for the trafficked girls battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the lack of educational programmes or career options offered.
Some organisations actually claimed that the girls' minds were not ready for education. But I had taught girls who did not know how to count to do long division in just two weeks.
Late at night the girls would share their dreams of writing a book so that the world would know of their experiences or of becoming doctors and working to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS to sex workers.
I wanted to give these girls the opportunity to revolutionise society's perception of women as a liability to their families and to prove that they could, in fact, be assets to society.
During this time I met Trina Talukdar, who had been teaching the children of sex workers in Kalighat, Kolkata, one of South Asia's oldest and largest red light areas. Seeing women being picked up for Rs. 5 (under a dollar), less than the price of a condom, and listening to the children tell stories of being shoved under the bed for hours while their mothers served clients on top, she realised that for the rest of her life she would be working just with the aim of ensuring that these horror stories were not replicated in the lives of others.
And then, somewhere in the universe, a star exploded. Mine and Trina's ideas, words and ideologies clashed and ricocheted off each other and with a big bang, Kranti was created - an anti-trafficking organisation that does not just rescue trafficked girls to return them home or give them a subsistence income, but transforms them into, among other things, gynecologists working to improve the sexual health of sex workers or India's finest feminist lesbian writer or somebody who would sacrifice an Ivy League education in order to go and teach Libyan children after the revolution.
Kranti is not a rehabilitation home; it is a leadership training institute churning out revolutionaries who will change the world forever.