India: breaking the supply chain of human beings (read full article HERE)
There are more than one million prostituted girls in India. "Only when the buyers of sex are arrested will the brothels close down; and only when the brothels are closed will we be safe,” Uma Das, speaking to Hillary Clinton in India
When President Barak Obama recently called human trafficking “one of the great human rights causes of our time” and vowed to take steps to end it, I felt greatly re-assured that our work for the last decade and more to end sex trafficking would gain momentum.
Sex trafficking is a billion dollar industry  in India that is aided and abetted by entrenched attitudes of patriarchy, gender discrimination and a lax legal system. In Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata the great cities of India, girls as young as 9 years of age, are raped by eight to ten men every night. A million girls and women are forced into living in inhuman conditions of brutal violence and repeated rapes because there is a market created by men who buy sex. The Central Bureau of Investigation says that there were 3 million prostituted females in India of which 1.2 million are girls . And the National Human Rights Commission of India  says that the numbers of the trafficked are going up and the ages coming down  with the average age of recruitment into prostitution of an Indian female between nine and twelve years.
Research has established that trafficking of women and children has grown in leaps and bounds because the sex trade often takes place under the facade of a legal venture. Massage parlours, tourism companies, ‘Friendship clubs’ and even the institution of marriage have all become instruments of sex trafficking.
I was inspired to found Apne Aap Women Worldwide in 2002 after working closely with twenty two courageous young women in prostitution in the brothels of Mumbai. I first met them in the late 1990s when I was the field producer for the Emmy Award winning documentary, The Selling of Innocents .The documentary made visible the fact that prostitution was not simply poor women eking out an existence and migrant lonely men getting sex in exchange, but a whole system based on pimps, brothel owners, recruiters, transporters and money-lenders running a supply chain of human beings. I leveraged the Emmy and turned it into a road show , taking it to the United Nations and the United States Senate to create and change policies to end sex-trafficking.
Though the twenty-two founding women have since passed away from hunger, suicide, and AIDS-related complications, Apne Aap’s work continues. Small self-empowerment groups of ten women meet at Apne Aap community centres across the country to access education, improve their livelihood and receive legal rights training. Today, Apne Aap’s work reaches over 15,000 women and girls and continues to strive towards making the vision of the founding twenty-two women come true.