21st Century Slavery in Kolkata, India

 

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Image credit: http://www.andyvc.com/ 

I just finished reading “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” It was a difficult book to consume, but I believe anyone that cares about human rights should read it. It chronicles the many challenges women face worldwide, including forced prostitution and trafficking, female genital mutilation (FGM), maternal mortality, honor killings, and rape as a tool of war.

This summer, I will be personally wrestling with one of those issues: forced prostitution and trafficking. In “Half the Sky,” this is referred to as “21st century slavery.” Across India and rural Bangladesh, girls are captured and trafficked as young as 8 or 9 to serve in brothels. Other girls follow after their mothers who worked in the brothel before them, not seeing any alternative for employment because of their lack of education. Many who try to leave the brothels often find themselves beat and raped, not only by their employers, but also potentially by the police of their town. Hundreds of thousands of girls and women find themselves with no choice but to prostitute themselves.

This happens all across the world, not just in Kolkata, India, but that is where I will be serving this summer.  I will be working with Freeset, a fair-trade social enterprise that offers alternative employment and education to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. I will also be working with Safecity to help increase anonymous reporting of incidents of sexual harassment in public spaces in Kolkata. Safecity aims to make cities safer by encouraging equal access to public spaces for everyone especially women, through the use of crowdsourced data and technology.

You can help me raise my remaining expenses here.