To facilitate greater exchange of grassroots knowledge, resources, best practices, and lessons learned, we will be highlighting an organization or person defending the rights of people (Human Rights Defenders) to create awareness and sustain both public and private conversations about critical and timely issues.
Millions of women and girls around the world are exploited in the commercial sex industry, mainly in prostitution, which is often the end destination of sex trafficking. Click here to learn more about sex trafficking on our Forum on Women website.
Apne Aap Women Worldwide is a grassroots Indian organization that works to empower marginalized girls and women to resist and end sex trafficking by organizing into small groups where they work collectively to access their legal, social, economic, and political rights. Founded by 22 courageous women in prostitution, who had a vision for a world where no woman could be bought or sold, Apne Aap Women Worldwide is determined to make their vision a reality.
Apne Aap helps marginalized women and girls work collectively to lift themselves out of the sex industry as well as to advocate for policy change to stem the demand for purchased sex.
“Our approach is to help the last girl re-gain control of her destiny. The last girl is poor, female, low-caste, and a teenager. Additionally, she may be the daughter or sister of a prostituted woman or a victim of child marriage or domestic servitude.
She is preyed on by traffickers because of her lack of choices and forms the ‘supply.’ Traffickers and Clients/Johns who buy and sell these girls form the ‘demand.’ Our approach simultaneously tackles both the ‘supply sideb and the ‘demand side’ of the sex trafficking industry from the grassroots to the tree tops.
Since 2002, Apne Aap Women Worldwide has formed about 150 self-empowerment groups in brothels, red light districts, slums, and villages. Through this work, we have created and proven a community-centered solution to end sex trafficking; we have helped to transform the most marginalized girls and women into leaders who can change their own fates and those of their peers.”
The organization has successfully lobbied for the United Nation’s anti-trafficking fund for survivors. Established in 2001, the fund disburses grants to organizations providing services to trafficking victims. Representatives from Apne Aap have also made speeches to the South African and Icelandic parliaments, urging them to change the way their laws address the demand for trafficking. Today, both countries have changed their policies to punish buyers instead of trafficked women.
The organization plans to scale its model to link 500,000 women to a nationwide support network in 2016, and to provide 100,000 girls with access to educational opportunities. To learn more about the organization’s work, watch their documentary Selling of Innocents.