Sunitha Krishnan has rescued about 12,000 women of different ages from the clutches of traffickers so far. Image Courtesy – The Hindu
Sunitha Krishnan was born on 23 May 1969 in Mumbai. She completed her schooling from the ‘Kendriya Vidyalaya’ of Waltair in Andhra Pradesh. She joined St. Joseph’s College later at Bangalore and Yenepoya University in Karnataka to complete her Master Degree in Social work and PhD.
She was born into a Malayali family. The name of her father is ‘Raju Krishnan,’ who worked as an employee in the Department of Survey, India; and her mother is Nalini Krishnan.
From the beginning of her childhood, she wanted to do something for the welfare of the society. She started dance training for the mentally challenged children when she was just 8 years old. She started a small school where she used to train the kids of the Dalit society.
An incident happened at that time that changed her life when she was 15-years-old. She used to work on a neo-literacy camp for uplifting the Dalit children. Suddenly a gang of eight men came there and brutally raped her and hit her so hard that she became partially deaf. Sunitha was completely shattered by the incident. After recovering from the trauma, she accumulated all her energy and took a resolution to mark that incident as a source of motivation.
She started working for the welfare of rape victims in India. Although her parents were not satisfied with her lifestyle, she continued her work to reach her target. She moved to Hyderabad and started working with ‘People’s Initiative Network’, an organization work for Tribals and Dalits there. The institution was started by Brother Varghese Theckanath, a social activist, and a member of Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel.
Sunitha Krishnan helped prostitutes of the famous red-light area ‘Mehboob ki Mehandi’ in Hyderabad to evacuate from brothel thereby giving them suitable employment. She started a school in the evacuated brothel named ‘Prajwala’. Her organization ‘Prajwala’ started with five motivation point – Prevention, Protection, Rescue, Rehabilitation and Reintegration.
The women kept in the red light area were actually helpless with their little children. They had no other occupation other than prostitution to feed the fatherless children.
Her non-profit organization ‘Prajwala’ has shifted more than 12000 victims of prostitution to new life. ‘Prajwala’ has also helped victimized children of this kind to educate and provide with a better future. The victims have been provided with training on welding, carpentry, masonry, printing, housekeeping etc.
Later Sunitha Krishnan got married to Rajesh Touchriver, an Indian filmmaker, production designer and scriptwriter. Rajesh is also a talented person and he has got several state, national and international awards for his work.
To expose the cruelty of the patriarchal society, she started an online blog, ‘Sunitha Krishnan: Anti-Trafficking Crusader’. Tragic stories about hundreds of girls who detached from their normal lives came up in the pages of Sunita’s blog. We can watch her on youtube channel by searching ‘Sunitha Krishnan’s TED talk’ and observe her work to uplift the afflicted girls and women in India.
In a story, she described about a heinous crime happened to a 4-year-old girl. The girl was being regularly raped by his father, uncle, grandfather, cousin and neighbours. At a time, when the wave of Digital India has started flowing throughout the country, it has been the dirtiest news of the Indian patriarchal society that has come across in front of us. If Sunitha Krishnan could have not disclosed it, the information would have been kept secret by the family members of the girl.
In her blog, Sunitha informed the society about how the traffickers are inventing new methods of trafficking women and girls. How girls are kept in a worse condition than slaves, how they are subjected to regular sexual abuse, physical and mental torture until the girl is forced to voluntarily give her body to her clients. She told there how the oppressed girls are finally traumatized physically and mentally. Sunitha also explained in her blog how most of the girls end their lives with AIDS.
‘Prajwala’ started rescuing women and children from traffickers and also give shelter and rehabilitation of the rescued girls. She also arranges a job for the rescued girls and give them legal support. Sunita’s ‘Prajwala’ even arrange marriages for all these helpless girls. The organization provides medical treatment and shelter to AIDS-infected women.
Prajwala started rescuing women and children from traffickers and also given shelter and rehabilitation of the rescued girls. Image Courtesy – Forbes
‘Prajwala’ today is almost the largest anti-trafficking shelter in the world. The organization has about 200 employees and everyone gets paid, except for Sunita Krishnan. She is still a full-time volunteer and unpaid employee of the organization. Sunita did not even take the money from her film director husband to run ‘Prajwala’. She use to write books, present speeches against trafficking in various seminars and donate almost all the money to his organization. One of Sunita’s slogans ‘Real Men Don’t Buy Sex’ has reached almost 200 billion people worldwide.
Sunita has made 14 documentaries to make people aware. Topics include youth and AIDS, marriages of sheikhs, forbidden villages, women trafficking, communal riots etc. Many of these films have been conferred with national awards.
Sunita has been awarded the ‘Padma Shri’ in the year 2016. She has also received numerous domestic and international awards. A biographical film is being produced based on the life story of Sunitha Krishnan. Malayalam film director Vinith Srinivasan has made a film ‘Thira’ on Sunita.
Sunitha Krishnan has rescued about 12,000 women of different ages from the clutches of traffickers so far. Due to her efforts, thousands of women traffickers are being dragged to jail today. She used to face various obstacles from the society still facing today. She has been physically abused for 14 times. Several attempts were made like run over by a car, throwing acid, death threats etc. and the criminals are continuously trying to make her silent because she has declared the optimum protest against human trafficking.
A huge number of women and girls in India have come back to normal life from a filthy, exploited, tortured situation. Our story is to give her a salute and inspire others to stand and remain alert against criminal activities in our society.