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Ruchira Gupta

Founder and President of Apne Aap

India

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’.

  • Godfrey Phillips Bravery National Social Lifetime Achievement Award (March 2012);
    2012 Amazing Indians’ Award (February 2012), by Times Now TV channel;
  • Karmveer Puraskaar (2011), a Global Award for Social Justice & Citizen Action by ICONGO (International Confederation of NGOs);
  • Clinton Global Citizen Award (2009) for her relentless efforts to end human trafficking and gender-based violence;
  • The Abolitionist Award (2007) to honor Heroes in the ‘Fight against Modern Slavery’ by Lord David Alton, Templeton Foundation, the UK and Geneva Global;
  • Felicitation at the White House, USA (2000) for her work to combat trafficking after the US Bill became an Act; 
  • Emmy Award (1997) for “outstanding investigative journalism” for her documentary, ‘The Selling of Innocents’ on the trafficking of women and children from the villages of Nepal to the brothels of Mumbai.