The entire audience was silent after watching Sunitha Krishnan’s powerful TEDIndia talk on the issue of child sex trafficking in India in November this year. People needed time to digest her message.
She spoke about the organisation Prajwala she began almost 15 years ago in Hyderabad, India, and its mission of helping trafficked children. Prajwala finds, extracts, and supports women who are trafficked into prostitution as children. I visited her and Prajwala in Hyderabad after the conference to speak to her to understand more about it.
In conversation she displayed an intense, resolute determination, and selfless pride in the activities of the organisation. She described a multipronged approach aimed at helping these children by providing equal parts psychological support, civic support, and vocational support. She made it clear that none of these approaches alone could achieve the desired outcome, which was full reintegration into their community.
Her organisation worked to table, and have civic compensation legislation for trafficked children passed through Andra Pradesh state parliament to enable their civic rehabilition. This, she described, was crucial to having the children recognise themselves as victims rather than perpetrators, and crucially, have that same mindshift occur in the communities they were re-entering.
In addition, Prajwala has set up seventeen schools, educating the children through all stages of primary and secondary education. I visited one of these schools and spoke to a few of the teenage girls, one of which was now in university completing a Bachelor of Commerce.
On the same grounds, they had vocational training workshops in metalwork and woodwork, and were running a printing enterprise. One of the most difficult aspects to deal with was the fact that approximately one out of three girls had contracted HIV prior to their arrival at Prajwala, and medical support was a significant challenge.
Sunitha has suffered both threatened and real physical abuse from the vested interests in child trafficking. She has been attacked in fourteen separate incidents, and at the time of our meeting, was waiting for an operation required to fix her hearing, from a recent attempt on her life.
The consequences of Prajwala’s work is inspiring. Over 3,500 children have received support, 600 of which have gone on to marry and have 46 children, who she affectionately described as her grandchildren. This, by anyone’s standards, is a big achievement.
Watch her talk above to hear it in her own words.
Anesthesiologist based in Melbourne, Australia.
My interests are in next generation web applications and the potential within the growing volumes of data, and increased personal connectivity to improve the way we make decisions.
The web is less about computers than it is about connecting people and bridging the information gap found in a web-deficient world.
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