Sunitha Krishnan is an awe-inspiring personality. 4 feet and 5 inches tall, this lady has great courage and determination. She is a social activist and founder of Prajwala a non-profit organisation that rescues, rehabilitates and helps restart life of sex-trafficked women and children. She is working continuously to change the attitude of Indian society and government towards sex victims.
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The Brave Sunitha Krishnan
Now, you must be curious about the early life of Sunitha Krishnan that helped her to become the person she is. Alright, so let us have a look at the incredible life of Sunitha Krishnan which is full of pain and strength at the same time. Sunitha was was born in Banglore in 1972. From a very young age, she had the wish to help the poor children of a village near home city. At the age of 8 years, she started teaching dance to mentally challenged children. By the age of 12, she started running schools in slums for poor children. But there were men who disliked her work. They thought what she was doing was aganist the patriarchal society. So they decided to teach her a lesson for doing something against their wishes. At the tender age of 15, while Krishnan was working on a neo-literacy campaign for the Dalit community, she was brutally gang raped by eight pervert men.
No girl could have shown the strength that Sunitha Krishnan showed at the young age of 15. Her suffering served as the impetus for what she does today. She continued her studies and went on to become an active social worker fighting for the rights of sexually assaulted women and children. In 1996, she started her NGO Prajwala in a vacated brothel building in Hyderabad with the help of another like-minded man Brother Jose Vetticatil. Prajwala offers shelter to all the children and women who have been sexually and emotionally abused. In its early years, Sunitha Krishnan had to sell her jewelry and even her household utensils to fund Prajwala.
Today, Prajwala serves five purposes for sex-victims – prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration in society and advocacy. The NGO offers moral, financial, legal and social support to the victims and helps them in their fight for justice. Till date, Prajwala has rescued, rehabilitated, and served over 12,000 victims of human trafficking, and has grown to be the largest anti-trafficking shelter in the world.
Sunitha Krishnan believes that it is the right of every rape-survivor to live her life with dignity as it was not her fault. The rapists should be put to shame for committing such a heinous crime. In her words, “Let us write about men who commit such heinous crimes. Let us be curious to know who the rapist is and what his background is instead (of finding out about the victim)” In Sunitha’s view, forced prostitution, sex slavery, marital rapes and sexual abuse have always been a part of Indian society. “Only the visibility has increased.”
She once said, “In this patriarchal society, women are stereotyped. We are used as objects to satisfy men. There has been a need of one class (men) to be more powerful over women. This is where the problem begins”. Speaking about her own sexual assault that took place some 26 years ago, Krishnan once said “I do not remember the rape part of it as much as I remember the anger part of it…..I derive power from that anger.”
Sunitha Krishnan has been physically assaulted 14 times and she receives regular death threats from those who don’t appreciate her work. She received Padma Shri award for her social work in 2016. Besides this, she has won over 12 other awards for all what she is doing for the women and children who are victims of sexual abuse. Krishnan is currently happily married to Rajesh Touchriver, a filmmaker who supports her in all her works.
Sunitha Krishnan’s programs on rescue and rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking are applauded around the world. State governments are taking ideas from Krishnan for the prevention of human trafficking. Sunitha Krishnan says, the silence of the society towards human trafficking has to change. Let us salute Sunitha Krishnan for staying so strong not just for herself but many others like herself and giving hope to all of us of a better society.