17-year-old girl, Vaishali (name changed) was kidnapped near her house in 2009 in Varanasi. She was trafficked to New Delhi and was raped numerously. She was then taken to Surat and was gang raped for couple of weeks. This wasn’t the end. She was then taken to Mumbai where traffickers planned to sell her to a third party. This is when the Guria team intervened and rescued the girl from the traffickers. They did not just bring Vaishali back to her family but also got the lead trafficker arrested and made sure his bail was rejected. The case is under trial in district court.
Guria (pronounced as Gudia) is a Non-Profit organisation fighting against sexual exploitation of Women in Prostitution (WIP) and minor girls specially trafficking which has become a fastest growing criminal industry globally.
Guria had made a beginning by adopting three kids of Women in Prostitution in 1991 by Ajeet Singh. It was initiated to finish forced prostitution and specially trafficking and restoring rights for WIP and their children at Varanasi & Mau Red Light Area in U. P. and Bedia tribe, involved in traditional family-based prostitution at Raisen, M. P. also focusing on the prevention of human trafficking in the source districts of eastern U. P, India and Indo-Nepal border.
“Today I can say Varanasi is almost free from child prostitution” claims Ajeet.
Guria, till now has filled 1400 cases against traffickers and many are rotting in jail. It was started with Ajeet’s cousin wedding while he saw a sex worker dancing in front of a huge crowd with dirty hooting. Here’s how he recalls his state of thoughts.
“The way people were looking at her and treating her was something that shocked and deeply saddened me. It was then and there that I decided to do something to free girls like her from such a profession”
Perhaps, he acknowledged the roots of the profession is poverty and education. The reason why women and girls fall prey to the traffickers. When the performance of the lady was finished. He then went to the lady and asked if he could take care of her children. Women readily accepted and so then he adopted three kids of the lady at his tender age 18. For sure, his decision was never accepted by his family but somehow he managed to provide them a quality education.
“of course my decision was not welcomed by my family. I faced huge opposition from my family and society but this is what I wanted to do” said Ajeet.
8,00,000 people, primarily women are trafficked internationally every year. The global profits from trafficked sex slaves were $35. 7 billion USD in 2007. (Sex trafficking: inside the business of modern slavery, Kara 2009) Ajeet learned- the steps taken by him was not enough. The mechanism of traffickers seemed to be more complex than he had imagined.
In 1993, he started an NGO-Guria which not only rescued girls from trafficking but also focused on child prostitution and handcuffing sex traffickers.
“The whole profession and system are so complex that providing mere education to the kids or spreading awareness about health, HIV, etc., cannot solve it. The issue is slavery and the need to abolish the system of sex trafficking. It is only then that girls can be saved to lead better lives” says Ajeet.
It’s time for an aggressive decision. Ajeet prepared himself to take on the racket. He got a few hidden cameras—in his shirt button, pen, watch, etc.—and started to pose as a customer, only to track the locations of red light areas and the minor girls there. After the mapping was completed – the team of police and members of Guria – started to raid in the red light area of Shivdaspur. In a day, they used to rescue 15 girls.
Apart from rescuing girls, Guria lands many traffickers in jail and also work hard for their bail rejection. Over 400 such bail has been rejected till date.
“Often, these traffickers who get bail come out quickly and start doing what they did earlier. We make sure they stay in jail for a long time. Some of them have been in jail for about four to five years now”
Guria was now highlighted. Ajeet started to receive death threats and warnings. He often gets attacked but his work did not stop him.
“I have been attacked so many times and given death threats. Even my family did not support me. A lot of people raised question about my work but I was determined to save the lives of these girls,” says Ajeet.
It may appear a simple story but who dares to what Ajeet did in his teens! Organisations like Guria are rare to find though hard to succeed. How danger it would be give an eye to the brothel keepers. Anyway, Ajeet was a contributing factor to the society. What Ajeet did in his teens and with the volunteers of the organisation are valuable.
During an interview with The Week;
“Initially I was quite upset when he brought home the children of a sex worker. However, when I heard him out, I felt assured, and have since never interfered with his work,” said his mother, Shanti Singh.
“I wanted my son to become an IAS or IPS ofﬁcer, but when I discovered that his inclination was somewhere else, I did not stop him,” said his father, P. N. Singh, a retired police officer.
Guria comprise 25 members and hundreds of volunteers, and continues to their mission to save minor girls and WIP from being trafficked. Rather, they get support from CRY and other individual donations through which they conduct workshops, provide quality education to the children and conduct raids.
Ajeet is now planning to go National and saving girls from entering a profession aroused by the slavery, poverty and mere education opportunities. Let’s give him an opportunity to introduce himself and giving him an opportunity.
For more information, visit Guria website – http://www.guriaindia.org
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