Founder and President of Apne Aap
Ruchira Gupta was inspired to found Apne Aap after working closely with 22 courageous young women in prostitution in the brothels of Mumbai to make her Emmy Award-winning documentary, ‘The Selling of Innocents’. She campaigned tirelessly to promote the leadership of survivors in the global fight to end trafficking – bringing groups of survivors to speak before the UN General Assembly in 2008 and 2009 thereby elevating their voices to the highest levels of global policy.
A journalist by profession, danger is not alien to Ruchira. She has covered riots, conflict, and the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, a city in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. As founder of a grassroots organization that works on issues of human trafficking and women’s rights, Ruchira faces constant challenges - from mafia threats to resistance from buyers of sex - in her outreach to more than 10,000 women and girls at risk to or trafficked for prostitution in Bihar, Delhi and West Bengal.
Earlier, Ruchira worked with the United Nations in various capacities for over ten years in Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines, Kosovo, USA, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Iran. In some of these countries, she helped develop the National Action Plans on women’s empowerment and laws against human trafficking. She conceptualized and created a manual for law enforcement personnel and prosecutors jointly with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which continues to be used in India on confronting the demand for prostituted sex.
Her most significant contribution to civil society, governments and multi-lateral bodies like the United Nations has been to highlight the link between trafficking and prostitution and to lobby with policy makers on shifting the blame from the victim to the perpetrator.
She has received both national and global recognition for her consistent contributions towards eradicating human trafficking and was featured in Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s bestseller, ‘Half the Sky’.