Everyone has at least one inspiration in their life, that one person who motivates you every time to make a difference in your life. Inspirations are a source of positivity when we are down, they are the reasons we keep believing in ourselves. They can change the perspectives of one’s way of thinking , they can influence one to find oneself, to evolve and bloom higher within. One such person whose life and struggle can positively affect our lives is Sunitha Krishnan.
Sunitha Krishnan is an Indian social activist and co-founder of Prajwala , a nongovernmental organisation which is devoted to eradicating forced prostitution and sex trafficking. It combats trafficking in every dimension and restores the dignity of the sex trafficking victims .
Sunitha Krishnan is a native of Bangalore, Karnataka. She became passionate for social work at a very young age. She manifested her passion by teaching dance to mentally challenged children, at the age of eight years. At the age of twelve, she was running schools in slums. At the age of sixteen (as she has told in interviews), while working on a neo literacy campaign for the Dalits, she was gang raped by eight men. When asked about the foundation of Prajwala, she said that her rape was the incident which ignited the fire in her . Being a sufferer herself, she decided to dedicate her life to work for saving the lives of the innocent women who are raped and are forced into prostitution.
In 1996, along with Brother Jose Vetticatil, Sunitha Krishnan started Prajwala in a small Brothel in Hyderabad. She has acknowledged the support she has got from the transgender community in the initial stages. She even had to sell her jewellery and utensils to have enough money to cover the expenses. Till today, Prajwala has saved 12000 sex trafficking victims, making it the largest anti trafficking shelter in the world. Prajwala is built upon five pillars – prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and advocacy. She has made films, written books and appeared in various talk shows speaking about rape and sex trafficking and how girls unknowingly become victims of it.
Sunitha Krishnan has dedicated 25 years of her life for the betterment of the women who are victims of sexual assault. Sunitha Krishnan was awarded the Prestigious Padma Shri in the field of social work in 2016. She has also received the Tallberg Global Leadership Prize and the Franco-German Award for Human Rights and Rule of Law. Her appearance on television shows like Satyamev Jayate and Kaun Banega Crorepati made her garner huge fame and appreciation for her work . Her selflessness and bravery was complimented by both the audience and the celebrities. She was applauded for her speech at TED India. She received massive acclaim for her #ShametheRapist Campaign .Prajwala, in the last decade has rescued numerous sufferers , educated them and helped them lead a dignified life.
Sunitha Krishnan expressed her grief over the fact that even after doing so much for empowering women, the masses have not changed their mentality. There are still people who think rape victims are to be blamed and are a disgrace to the society and its customs. When it comes to adopting or marrying these girls and women, not one person turns up. She receives death and rape threats every single day . One of her colleagues was murdered in front of her while they were on a rescue mission. Even after all these dangers , she continuously does her humanitarian work because she does not want any one to go through the inhuman torture.
Sunitha Krishnan is a woman of substance . She is a living example of how we can use our trauma to find our potential. She is an inspiration for the numerous men and women who are physically and sexually abused. She has taught us to be hardworking , determined , courageous and selfless. She puts her own life at risk to save those innocent women and children who are forced into prostitution. She has tirelessly exposed the dark side of the society which we have been overlooking for decades. As a society , we have to learn a lot from her. We need to change our mind-set, be open and accepting towards those people ( especially women ) who have undergone brutal sexual abuse and most importantly, we must stop victim blaming. As dutiful citizens, we need to support people like her and help them in every way possible. We must be responsible enough to do whatever we can to prevent rape, sex trafficking and other heinous crimes against humanity.
By Srija Bandyopadhyay, Howrah, West Bengal