She grew up in the red light area of Kamathiputra, was abused as a child by her step-father. Today, Shweta Katti has secured a scholarship to Bard College, New York to pursue Psychology. Her aim? To help sexually abused women become the greatest versions of themselves. This Shweta Katti for you. A sex worker turned Psychologist.
We bring you some inspiring stories of women who may or may not have chosen prostitution as a profession for themselves, but have also gone beyond to live their dreams and ambitions; to #FixIt for themselves and others.
Shweta grew up in a brothel in Mumbai’s red light area, was abused as a child, but she has left all that behind and is keen to go the US for higher studies. She quotes to Firstpost,
“I was 12-years-old when my stepfather started sexually abusing me. I had no one to speak to. I was also abused by my brother-in-law. But I was scared to tell anyone, even my mother because I knew that I would be blamed”
However, she has often quoted that her mother, who worked as a domestic help at a brothel, has been her biggest strength. With the help of NGO Kraanti, Shweta completed her studies and healed herself through therapy. Shweta aspires to become a Psychologist and pay back to the community at the brothel, that encouraged her to study.
“I plan to become a psychologist and have a therapy centre in Mumbai’s red light area. Sex workers and their children have serious mental problems, and I want to help them deal with their difficult lives.”
Shweta has also been featured by NewsWeek’s Women in the World: 25-Under 25 Women to Watch, along with Malala Yousufzai, for her indefatigable efforts in uplifting marginalized women.
Lata Mane – Sex Worker Turned Award Winning Social Activist
Originally from Karnataka, Mane was married off to a man living in Mumbai in 1995. Her husband, later sold her into a brothel to work as a sex worker and abandoned her within a year. Left with no choice, Lata worked as a sex worker for 6 years.
She re-married one of her clients, who too, moved her to another brothel – a suburban one in Kamathipura of Mumbai. When she gave birth to two daughters, Mane came in touch with Vijay Krida Mandal (VKM), an NGO that helped her change her life for good.
“They work to create awareness of HIV/AIDS among sex workers. I joined them in 2002 as an educator for the sex workers under their program called AIDS prevention project (DISHA),” she says.
She has also started a Self Help Group with the help of the NGO and ended up bagging ‘Swacch Mumbai Abhiyaan’ in 2013 by the Municipal Corporation in the Ghatkopar Area. However, her background always made things tougher for her cause. Her daughter had a lot of trouble getting into a good school because of her mother’s previous job. Even the policemen refused to help her out during her ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’. But finally, Maney had her big moment, when Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) awarded her with the Woman Exemplar in Health Sector Award. As a social worker, Maney is focused on educating women on financial independence and make them understand why they can achieve anything they want to in life. Kudos to the woman for doing an amazing job!
Anala- Sex Slave Turned Social Activist
Sex slave, yes you read it right. Anala, since the age of 13, was kept as a sex slave in the red light area of Mumbai for ten long years. Only until a staff from Oasis India found her and helped her rebuild her life on her terms. With the support from Team Oasis, she finally found the strength to stand on her feet and what she did next was something not everybody has the courage to do- she went back to the place that destroyed her. She is back to the brothels but this time, only to educate sex workers that there is a way out for them. She has also helped convinced a lot of women to leave the sex trade and start working on their own projects.
These women indeed exhibit the strength of true human spirit and deserve nothing but tons of love, respect, and acceptance!
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