Ruchira Gupta and Rosena Sammi are turning saris into jewelry to try and help millions of women and girls in India
In India, the average age of a girl being pulled into prostitution is between nine and 13, and there are roughly three million prostituted women and girls in India, of which 1.4 million are children.
“Social enterprise is useless without an education,” says Ruchira Gupta of the sex trafficking epidemic in India. Gupta, founder of the NGO Apne Aap, has partnered with jewelry designer Rosena Sammi on the new collection “Who’s Sari Now?” to empower women and children rescued from red light districts across India.
Apne Aap runs classes in small community centers for daughters of women working—by choice or otherwise—as prostitutes. The NGO, which works toward helping the girls gain admission to boarding schools outside of the red light districts, currently has 1,200 children in schools and 2,000 women engaged in income generating activities, producing “Who’s Sari Now?” items for sale. The line of accessories is made from upcycled saris, and Indian sex workers in Bihar and West Bengal are helping make the jewelry, which will be sold in Los Angeles, New York City, and online, beginning this month.
Apne Aap runs non-formal classes in small community centers for daughters of prostituted women in these areas and then gets them admitted in boarding schools. They also run income-generating activities for prostituted and at risk women in community centers in these caste ghettoes and red light districts. They have supported more than 1,000 children to get into and finish school. Right now they have 1,200 children in school and 2,000 women and young women engaged in income generating activities. Apne Aap also teaches these women to campaign for and get government ID cards and subsidies, low cost food and housing vouchers.
Most recently it has started a small sanitary pad-making unit where young women in the red-light area are making, selling and using sanitary pads. With the help of Rosena Sammi the women engaged in sewing are now mending their futures by making jewelry for sale in New York.