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Re-writing the anti-trafficking rulebook
How two young women are challenging conservative Indian societies and some of the more established NGOs.
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2011 13:02
Trina Talukdar and Robin Chaurasiya are the co-founders of Kranti, an organisation that aims to empower young girls rescued from sex work in India

The film Revolutionary Daughters follows two young women, Robin and Trina, during the first 12 months of their unique mission; as they challenge injustice, turn young lives around and make tough decisions about the future.

Their organisation, Kranti (which means 'revolution' in Hindi), works with the daughters of sex workers to change their lives - taking them from the red light districts, housing them for the long-term, educating them and helping them to achieve their goals. Through this, they hope to make them the visible face of change for girls and women in India.

Here director Kate Taunton writes about the best project of a fledgling career.

DIRECTOR STATEMENT: KATE TAUNTON

Revolutionary Daughters was far and away the best project to ever land at my feet as a fledgling director. A film about an NGO that gives the daughters of sex workers a top class education and trains them to be the social reformers of the future - brilliant! I set out with high hopes. Trina and Robin are bright and engaging central characters, and the dilemmas they face as a new NGO are thought provoking and sometimes heart-breaking. This was rich territory indeed.

On paper Robin and Trina sounded like interesting characters but I was not prepared for how awesome they would prove to be. As you will see in the film, they have complementary approaches. Robin took a little longer to trust us than Trina did, but Robin's questions opened a discussion that was really useful and brought us closer in the long run. They both applied the same honest 'can-do' approach to being filmed as they do to running the organisation. They did not try to edit themselves or to hide anything and I think they come over all the better for it.

We were soon warmly accepted into the Kranti fold and, after a while, Robin even began to forgive us the early mornings (she is practically nocturnal). In fact the pair of them often sleep for just four hours a night - balancing caring for the girls and planning their schedules with expanding the organisation. Perhaps it is the exuberance of youth that gives the pair the energy and ambition that is often lacking within some of the older NGOs. There is a sense that they are re-writing the rulebook for anti-trafficking organisations and creating a utopian society within their four walls.

Whilst the drama unfolding in front of the camera was welcomed, things behind the scenes were rarely drama-free. We were a small crew of three - myself (shooting director), an assistant producer from the UK, along with an Indian fixer/translator on a 10-day shoot during monsoon season in Mumbai. We soon realised our local hired kit was unreliable (to say the least) and half way through the shoot our translator was struck down with flu. So we re-adjusted our schedule, recruited Trina as part-time translator and carried on – the revolution was not going to wait around for us after all!

Robin and Trina behave like conscientious, liberal parents. They encourage independence, teach sex education and allow boyfriends but monitor the relationships closely. Whilst the film shows the warm, home-like environment in the house, I feel it misses a sense of how other girls are being brought up around them. We did not have the chance to illustrate the conservative Indian society that Kranti aims to change. As daughters of sex workers and from low caste backgrounds, Kranti girls routinely face discrimination when applying for schools and other positions but nothing like this transpired during our filming period and it is something that is difficult to generalise about.

It was a huge privilege to witness these young women being guided and encouraged and to see firsthand the vision of Kranti coming together. The girls' passion and enthusiasm for learning about the wider world is inspiring and I look forward to following their progress and seeing how their lives develop in the future.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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