Apne Aap

486203_10151248311087508_93600041_nApne Aap Women Worldwide is a registered charitable trust in India. A grassroots Indian organization, we work to empower girls and women to resist and end sex trafficking by organizing marginalized women and girls into small self-empowerment groups, where they work collectively to access their legal, social, economic, and political rights. Founded by twenty-two courageous women in prostitution, who had a vision for a world where no woman could be bought or sold, Apne Aap Women Worldwide is determined to make their vision a reality.

What They Do…

Our Approach is to help the Last girl re-gain control of her destiny. The last girl is poor, female, low-caste, and a teenager. Additionally, she may be the daughter or sister of a prostituted woman or a victim of child marriage or domestic servitude. She is preyed on by traffickers because of her lack of choices and forms the “supply”. Traffickers and Clients/Johns who buy and sell these girls form the “demand.” Our approach simultaneously tackles both the “supply side” and the “demand side”of the sex trafficking industry from the grassroots to the tree tops..

Legal Protection: In each of our anti-trafficking centres, Apne Aap has established a legal aid unit to help women understand their rights, as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and Indian national law. Our legal protection programmes help the women and girls in Self Empowerment Groups (SEGs) understand the criminal justice system and how it can help deliver justice to trafficking victims. In addition, through in-depth legal awareness and training, we provide women the space to understand the system and the market demand that exploits them — and we give them the tools to fight for change.

Education: Apne Aap’s first priority is to get children, especially girls, out of red light districts and slums, and into mainstream schools. Through easily accessible community classrooms located in local Apne Aap centres, trained teachers and members of the women’s Self Empowerment Groups recruit, enroll, and track children in the school programmes. In addition to education and the empowerment that comes with it, the system instills confidence, self-respect, dignity, and awareness.

Community Centers: Our community centres have also become hubs of cultural activity, where women and children are allowed to freely express their pain, hopes, and desires in creative ways. Activities include painting classes, theatre workshops, and storytelling sessions, which each act as a cathartic release. We also host a unique creative art therapy programme that addresses and dispels myths associated with HIV/AIDS.

Savings: To begin, each SEG sets a savings goal of anywhere from 30 to 100 Indian Rupees per month. All members contribute regularly to the group’s savings. Each month, the women decide together to give a portion of their pooled money to help whomever in the group has the most urgent need (food or school payments for a member’s child). Most of the money remains saved collectively, so that after six months, the group is eligible to open a bank account, access bank loans, and start small businesses projects together. Today, more than 1,000 women and girls have bank accounts thanks to their association with Apne Aap.

Their Wish List…

Advocate: Join our Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex campaign by tweeting and facebooking a selfie with the #coolmendontbuysex and #apneaap on  Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about our stand against the purchase of sex.

Fundraise: Screen meenathemovie.com at your home, college, library, salon and public events. Bake cookies, cakes and sell our T-shirts saying Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex. Raise funds and donate on our paypal account.

Volunteer in the U.S or India.

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The fact this organization is a true network of benefactors and servers is inspiring. These women are truly there for each other and the good of the cause.

We enroll the Last girl in an Apne Aap network and her gain Ten Assets over a period of 3 to 5 years. The Ten Assets are:

1. Safe Space

2. Education

3. Self-confidence

4. Political power

5. Government authorized IDs

6. Government subsidies like low-cost food, housing,

health care and loans

7. Legal support to file police complaints and testify in court

8.Savings and bank accounts

9. Livelihood linkages like vocational training, markets, jobs

10. Nine friends or membership of a self-empowerment group.

The Assets either reduce her risk to being trafficked or creates an exit strategy from prostitution by reducing her dependency on the brothel system and creating choices other than prostitution. Once a girl gains all ten assets, she gets ten on ten. This has a multiplier effect as she then influences and enrolls other girls to gain the ten assets. Also, as part of the Apne Aap network and of the smaller self-empowerment groups, she scales up the work by campaigning individually and collectively for changes in laws and policies that affect hundreds of thousands of her sisters. We call this the 10 X 10 approach. 20 % of our work is to create exit strategies among girls and women who are victims of prostitution. This is traditionally known as rehabilitation and reintegration. 80 % of our work is prevention among daughters of women in prostitution and girls and young women trapped in caste communities suffering from inter-generational prostitution. Many of these castes were formerly nomadic groups labeled as Criminal Tribes by the British. Some examples are Nats, Bediyas, Sansis, and Kanjars.

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