Civil Courage Prize Honoree 2011
Triveni Acharya is President of the Rescue Foundation, a non-profit in India devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and repatriation of women and children who have been victims of kidnapping and sex trafficking. The victims, who come mainly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, are sold into forced prostitution in India.
Human trafficking in India is an immense problem. India's Central Bureau of Investigation estimated in 2009 that there were approximately three million prostitutes, of which about 40% were children. In addition to sex slavery, other forms of trafficking include forced labor and forced marriage.
Some trafficking victims are lured by the hopes of well-paying jobs, while others are sold by their families or abducted.
Each year, with the cooperation of local police, the Rescue Foundation is responsible for the release of between 300 and 400 girls from forced prostitution. Approximately 20% of the girls are HIV positive. Most have other serious sexually transmitted diseases and infections. In addition to physical and psychological trauma, rescued girls are subjected to intense social stigmatization and questions of citizenship. The Rescue Foundation offers protective homes and rehabilitation services in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune.
Liberating women from brothels is especially difficult because it can represent a loss of up to $45,000 to the brothel keeper. Rescue Foundation raids have resulted in the arrest of brothel keepers as well as human traffickers. For these reasons, Acharya is subjected to frequent personal threats in her work. "Somebody must do justice to the unfortunate victims," she says. "If I am killed, that will be God's wish."
Having begun her career as a journalist in Mumbai, Acharya assumed the helm of the Rescue Foundation after the death of her husband, the groupís founder, in 2005.
For further information please visit the Rescue Foundation. To arrange an interview, please contact Barbara Becker, 917-727-1094.
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