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Template:Infobox non-profit Prajwala is an non-governmental organization in Hyderabad, India, opposed to forced prostitution and sex trafficking. It was founded by Dr Sunitha Krishnan.

Dr Sunitha Krishnan has committed her life as a fulltime volunteer in Prajwala. A mental health professional, she has done extensive research and is essentially a Fieldpractitioner. She has been instrumental in rescuing hundreds of children from severely abusive conditions and restoring childhood to them. Sunitha Krishnan is making it possible for India's government and citizen organizations to manage jointly a range of protective and rehabilitative services for children who have been trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. As of 2007, Prajwala operated 17 schools in Hyderabad as part of Krishnan's strategy to remove women from brothels by first giving their children educational and vocational opportunities outside of the red-light districts. [1] In addition to her local work, she also has tried to increase pressure on foreign governments who, she says, fail to adequately enforce laws against sex-trafficking and sexual predation. For example, she says that although Americans comprise 25% of sex tourists in Asia, the US government does too little to prosecute them.

The institution

The philosophy of Prajwala evolved based on the need of women and children who are victims of trafficking. Prajwala emerged as an anti-trafficking organization, which believes in preventing women and children from entering prostitution, which is the worst form of sexual slavery. The organization is actively involved in second-generation prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, restoration and social reintegration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. These objectives are achieved through a multi-pronged approach, as trafficking is a multi-dimensional problem. During the process of implementation of various programs to combat causes of trafficking PRAJWALA evolved need based interventions and methodologies which are the mile stones for the organization and breakthrough in the sector of anti-trafficking.

For 12-year-old Laila, it was a never ending saga of pain and fear. Enslaved in a cellar for three years, she was subjected to physical abuse and mental torture by a number of men. She can barely recall her childhood, the time when she was fondly called Laxmi in her hometown in Andhra Pradesh. Laila was rescued by Prajwala, an anti-trafficking organisation, from a red light area in Mumbai. Prajwala is a movement started by Sunitha Krishnan, a health care professional in Hyderabad. Sunitha is full of stories of many such girls who were rescued and brought back into society. “Even as a young girl of 16, I wanted to work for the cause of children and women. I was arrested for protesting against the 1995 Miss World contest held in Bangalore, and had to serve a two-month sentence. After being released, I decided to move out of Bangalore and settle down in Hyderabad,” 35-year-old Sunitha, co-founder and chief functionary, Prajwala, says. In 1996, sex workers living in Mehboob ki Mehandi, a red light area in Hyderabad, were evacuated. As a result, thousands of women, who were caught in the clutches of prostitution, were left homeless. Having found a like-minded person in Brother Jose Vetticatil, a missionary, Sunitha Krishnan started a transition school at the vacated brothel to prevent the second generation from being trafficked. “We began in a small way by responding to the plight of the mothers. Things were not easy during the initial days. Although the women were concerned about their children, they were not ready for any kind of partnership. I made a calculated move to have a win-win situation. ‘You give me information about the destitute women trapped in prostitution, and I will provide education to your child’ was how I convinced the them, and it worked well,” she says.

Today, Prajwala runs over 17 transition centres in different areas of Andhra Pradesh for the sex workers’ children. Over 5,000 children have benefited from the second generation prevention programme.

The organisation, so far, has rescued more than 2,500 victims with the help of the information provided by its partners and through police intervention. The organisation has 80 members in India and 25 members abroad.

“In order to empower the rescued, we started to train them in carpentry, welding, printing and stationery material, and also in the manufacture of wooden and steel furniture, besides training them as housekeepers to work in hotels and hospitals,” Sunitha says. “So far, we have provided rehabilitation to nearly 1,500 girls, but couldn't succeed in doing so in 1,000 other cases. I don't think I failed but probably I didn't get the desired results. For instance, we rescued a 20-year girl from a Pune red light area and offered a Rs 6,000-per month salary package to her to work for us. She rejected the offer and went back. After 10 days, she called me and said she realised her mistake and was willing to work for the cause. Today, she is one of our main informers. Now, can this be called a failure,” she says. Sunitha Krishnan is supported by Rajesh Touch River, a film maker known for his internationally-acclaimed movie In the Name of Buddha. He has made more than a dozen short films for Prajwala. One of these films Anamika (nameless) is now a part of the curricula of the Andhra Pradesh Police Academy and the National Police Academy.

“Unlike many other organisations, Prajwala is not a project. It is a need-based organisation. I will close down Prajwala the day society stops treating women and children as objects of exploitation,” proclaims Sunitha Krishnan.

Awards

Sunitha Krishnan received awards for her role in the anti-trafficking sector

  • Stree Shakti Puraskar(national award)
  • Perdita Huston Human Rights Award
  • World of Children Award.

[2]

External links

  • Abernethy, Bob, Religion and Ethics Weekly, Episode No. 1019, January 5, 2007 [3]
  • Ashoka.org
  • Prajwala homepage
  • Micek, Peter, "Indian Activist Warns Teens About Sex Trafficking," New America Media, News Report, Dec 27, 2006 [4]
  • Nair, Yasmin, "American Home Trafficking and the Return of Domesticity," Calmour, Issue 37, Summer 2006 [5]
  • "Prajwala - A home/school for Molested Children," February 28, 2004 [6]
  • Price III, G. Jefferson, "Women who shoulder the world's burdens with grace," Christian Science Monitor, April 10, 2006 [7]
  • The NewsHour with Jim LehrerPublic Broadcasting System, 2007


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