Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 117: A Friend of Prajwala

Recently I came across this video of Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, the founder of Prajwala, an anti-trafficking organization in India. I had read about this phenomenal lady before but watching the video had left me horrified and feeling utterly confused. Horrified because I couldn't believe the atrocities that she had described in it - they are no less heinous as the ruthless activities we hear in the name of terrorism every day but the former in fact seem even more widespread. Confused because I just cant seem to imagine why anyone would commit such atrocities but more importantly, what can I do about it.

I tend to ignore the bad things that happen in the world and see only the good things. Sure, I feel bad about the distant stories I hear. For example, that of people losing everything one day - in the Tsunami, in Haiti, in Burma etc and I react by making a small donation and moving on with my life. Or I feel bad when I see the terrorist attacks - 9/11, 26/11 etc. and I react by making a small prayer and moving on with my life. When things are closer, for example when I personally visit an orhpanage or an old age home, I might do a bit more like what I have written here, and that's really the max I have gotten myself to do so far.

But having watched that video, I realize this is not enough. Not only because Dr. Krishnan is a huge-hearted, brave and awe-inspiring person who makes the rest of us look like pathetic, selfish, smaller beings but also because what she is fighting against - trafficking of women and children, is something that should not be happening at all! It is not a natural disaster that we are helpless about, it is not about a community that doesn't have an identity or means of survival and seems to be fighting for one (like what many terrorist organizations claim), it is not an issue such as poverty or illiteracy that comes with a gigantic population and several social and economic factors playing hand in hand. It is something that has sprung up simply because some people in the world have an (apparently) uncontrollable sexual craving and sadistic outlook that they inflict upon helpless women and children. That is just wrong!

I wanted to help out somehow but I was not sure how. I knew that being part of Prajwala would not only help me help these women and children but it would also give me the chance to work on something that has bothered me over years.

I doubt whether any girl who has grown up as part of the Indian middle class or lower, has been spared sexual harassment of some kind - the Indian roads, buses and trains are nightmares for women and I too have had several horrible experiences. And like 99% of the women, I too have suffered in silence and later escaped to the safe haven of Singapore, never wanting to go back. What you see on the video link above is the extreme form of such harassments and I feel that collectively this undignified filth must be eradicated.

I took some time to read up more on Prajwala's activities and the kind of help they would need. I finally wrote to Dr. Krishnan saying that I would like to commit any help that I can offer from here in Singapore, including design of publicity materials.

And she has replied back. She has suggested that I start a 'Friends of Prajwala' group in Singapore and has responded that she will get back with content that I can work for the publicity materials. I will be honoured to start off a 'Friend of Prajwala' group in Singapore. I am not yet sure what would the activities be and what the group can do exactly but I believe that even if it is to get 10 people to be aware of what’s happening around them and get them to react and not ignore, it would be worth it.

So as of today, I make my commitment as a ‘Friend of Prajwala’.

883 more to go.


  1. I am so happy to hear your commitment towards this movement. May God give you the courage and strength to fight this wrong happenings in the world and we have a better future and our childrens can live in Peace and Harmony.

    we are always there to support you.....

  2. Hey Shilpa,
    just to inspire you i thought of sharing a good short story i had read a long time back and i guess it will help you in this commitment of yours.

    Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf's edge and and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached, he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

    The man was stuck by the the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached, the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.

    As he came up to the person, he said: "You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can't possibly make a difference." The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said: "It sure made a difference to that one!"

    so Shilpa lets take that as a lesson, even though there are many victims whom you cannot reach out, but for the few whom you can reach out and bring them out, YOU INDEED MADE A DIFFERENCE. EVEN YOU SINGLE HANDEDLY CAN BRING ABOUT A DIFFERENCE, PEOPLE WILL JOIN YOU DONT WORRY ON THAT. ONCE AGAIN WE ARE PROUD OF YOU SHILPA FOR THE GOOD DEEDS YOU ARE DOING FOR THE SOCIETY.

  3. I have my update :) Do let me know how I can help out whenever you hear about the details

  4. Jenif - Thank you very much for your continuous support and also for the inspirational story! :)

    Naren - Yes I will absolutely! Thank you for the offer! :)