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Ruchira accepts the NGO CSW/NY Woman of Distinction Award 2015 at the NGO CSW Reception on March 9th

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The girls and women of India, many of whom are members of my organization Apne Aap Women Worldwide. They are victims and survivors of prostitution and some are at risk of being prostituted. The reason they are at risk for being prostituted is because they are the Last Girl. Not only are they poor, they are also female, they are also teenagers, and they are also very often, in India, low caste. In America they're black. In lots of parts of Latin America and Africa they are indigenous people. They are marginalized, they are poor, and they're neglected. Very often governments, policy makers, foundations tend to not even notice them. They're disposable labor. And traffickers take advantage of their vulnerabilities caused by their race, their class, their caste, their gender, their age. They don't have access to schools. They don't have access to livelihood trainings. They don't have access to housing. Sometimes they don't even have access to decisions over their own bodies. Very often they are between the ages of 9 and 13 and somebody else decides whether they are to go to school or stay at home to help with the chores. Whether they are to be married or prostituted. All these decisions are taken from them by somebody else. Whether they should have a baby, whether they should get married Whether they should study or not study. They are the Last Girl. And today I accept this award on behalf of those Last Girls. Who are at risk or who are prostituted in my country and in countries all over the world. And this opportunity to get this award during the CSW 59 20 years after Beijing, is a huge opportunity for all of us from the NGO movement, to put pressure on the United Nations women, because they have diluted many of the agendas set forth in the Beijing platform for action. 20 years ago, promised these Last Girls all the 12 core goals. But, slowly over the years they got caught in reusing huge numbers of victories past and they began to neglect the Last- they began to skim the top of the bottom. And so very often they would not go to the 13 year old in a brothel or the 9 year old living in a caste ghetto where there was no school, no water, no electricity, and no criminal justice system There was nobody to watch out for her when she was pulled out of school and put into a brothel. And, what has happened subsequently is that as part of these were created, and as the canvases were created to get the quickest reach the fastest, what happened was that this 9 year old in this caste ghetto, or the 13 year old in the brothel or even the 19 year old who grew up inside the brothel was neglected. Nothing was created for her. There were helplines created called Charity Lines, but this girl did not have access to a phone There were laws created, but they were written in a language that this girl could not understand. There were charity welfare committees created but they were too far away from the girls who were used. Schools were too far away for her to walk to. Her womanhood itself was neglected. Over the years, it came to a point that even her absence of choices and her survival strategies was recognized as an acceptable form of livelihood. And her sexual exploitation actually began to be called work in many UN documents. And to our horror, in 2013 there were two UN documents produced by United Nations AIDS program and UNFPA. Which said the call on countries to decriminalize pimping, to decriminalize brothel-keeping and to decriminalize the advertisement of sexual services, saying that for many women and girls their sexual exploitation or their prostitution was a choice. They failed to recognize the absence of choices of these Last Girls. And then, to change the language even more, to sterilize the exploitation out of it, they began to say that their sexual exploitation was sex work. NGOs wrote letters to UN women as the champions of the UN family to take up women and girl's issues to say they should talk to UNAIDS and to UNFPA and tell them that decriminalizing the sex industry, decriminalizing pimping and brothel keeping and also the advertisement of the sale of sex would put more and more Last Girls in harms way. And we have to not accept the exploitation but instead we have to ask for someone to put in more budgets to invest the Last Girl, to create more schools, to create more schools in her caste ghetto to make sure she has access to housing, to legal protection, to justice and today when I accept this award, I want to remind us all for a minute or two, to think about the Last Girl and when you go back to your member states to your delegates, to anyone you know and you're a woman ask them to take note again and to take and form the voice all of us who are part of the women's movement and struggles for women all over the world. You will only be standing by the Last Girl. Gandhi once said that whenever we undertake any action, we must think about the impact of that action on the weakest person we know and how that action can help the weakest person we know to take control of her own destiny. By legitimizing the sex industry, we cannot help the weakest person we know gain control of her own destiny. In fact, we help her lose control of her destiny, because she'll be controlled by the pimps, the brothel keepers, the recruiters, the transporters all the people who make money off her. In prostitution, they don't make more money as you grow older And when we accept prostitution and sex work, we compromise on behalf of all women because we say that inherently exploiting and binding girls, are ok for us. We do appear with the struggles, which led to us being here today. Let us not forget our future generations and let us fight for ourselves and I accept this award on behalf of all of us. Thank you very much.

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Duration: 7 minutes and 41 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Posted by: us_apneaap on Jul 9, 2019

This year’s NGO CSW/NY Woman of Distinction awardee is our founder Ruchira Gupta. On the evening of Monday March 9th, she accepted the award at the annual NGO CSW Reception.

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