Sunitha Krishnan is galvanizing India’s battle against sexual slavery by uniting government, corporations and NGOs to end human trafficking.
Each year, some two million women and children, many younger than 10 years old, are bought and sold around the globe. Impassioned by the silence surrounding the sex-trafficking epidemic, Sunitha Krishnan co-founded Prajwala, or "eternal flame," a group in Hyderabad that rescues women from brothels and educates their children to prevent second-generation prostitution. Prajwala runs 17 schools throughout Hyderabad for 5,000 children and has rescued more than 2,500 women from prostitution, 1,500 of whom Krishnan personally liberated. At its Asha Niketan center, Prajwala helps young victims prepare for a self-sufficient future.
Krishnan has sparked India's anti-trafficking movement by coordinating government, corporations and NGOs. She forged NGO-corporate partnerships with companies like Amul India, Taj Group of Hotels and Heritage Hospitals to find jobs for rehabilitated women. In collaboration with UN agencies and other NGOs, she established printing and furniture shops that have rehabilitated some 300 survivors. Krishnan works closely with the government to define anti-trafficking policy, and her recommendations for rehabilitating sex victims have been passed into state legislation.
"The sense that thousands and millions of children and young people are being sexually violated and that there’s this huge silence about it around me angers me."Sunitha Krishnan
“In [India] and across the globe, hundreds and thousands of children, as young as three, four, are sold into sexual slavery. But that’s not the only purpose that human beings are sold for. They are sold in the name of adoption. They are sold in the name of organ trade. They are sold in the name of forced labor, camel jockeying, anything, everything.”
“We, as a society, we have PhDs in victimizing a victim.”
“We have trained girls [rescued from sex trafficking] as carpenters, as masons, as security guards, as cab drivers. And each one of them are excelling in their chosen field, gaining confidence, restoring dignity, and building hopes in their own lives.”
“It’s very fashionable to talk about human trafficking in this fantastic AC hall. It’s very nice for discussion, discourse, making films and everything. But it is not nice to bring them to our homes. It’s not nice to give them employment in our factories, our companies. It’s not nice for our children to study with their children. … That’s my biggest challenge.”