By Elizabeth Willoughby on
Meeting with anti-trafficking NGOs from Bengal, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton also took the time to watch performances by survivors of sex trafficking that included dance as healing, 19th-century style painting as storytelling, and a karate performance by a girl who lives in Bihar’s red light district.
Clinton left wearing a wristband messaged with ‘Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex’.
Uma Das, a young women who learned carpentry through the support of Apne Aap, an organization that provides legal, therapeutic and vocational help to women and girls at risk, wrote about Clinton’s visit in the NGO’s “Red Light Despatch” newsletter.
Living in a red light district, Uma says buyers of sex cannot tell the difference between girls who are prostitutes and those who are not: “They take it for granted that all women and girls living there are prostitutes and easily available to satisfy their sexual urges. The children and girls are not safe.”
Frightened for Uma, her family forced her into an early marriage, but she continued her connection with Apne Aap working with an adolescent group, as well as joining its campaign to end trafficking by punishing perpetrators instead of victims.
When she heard that Clinton would be coming to her city, Uma was determined to take advantage of the influence that an advocate like Clinton could provide. “I requested her to campaign for punishment of those involved in the sex trade and child marriage. I gave her a wristband with the message ‘Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex’. Mrs. Clinton immediately wore it on her wrist and asked the entire team to wear it.”
Actor Ashton Kutcher, in India on business, also took time out to visit Apne Aap, after which he tweeted, “Met some powerful girls today in Delhi Apne Aap: A grassroots movement to end sex trafficking.”
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