Defying Sexploitation

The Gig: Assistant Muckraker

The Work: pitch in at Apne Aap (On Our Own), an organization in Mumbai (Bombay), India, that provides support, education, vocational training, health education and other assistance to women and children who have been exploited by the sex trade. Apne Aap could use help with just about everything, from medical exams to computer training to art therapy. The organization was founded in 1998 by Ruchira Gupta, a journalist who came to the brothels of Mumbai to produce a documentary about sex trafficking and couldn’t leave after witnessing what the prostitutes and their children face. Working with some of the prostitutes, she organized Apne Aap, which serves as a drop-in/support center for the women and their kids. Medical volunteers — doctors, nurses — are in constant demand, as are teachers and researchers to help with documentation and archiving.

Training/Education/Requirements: Aside from the obvious requirements (medical degrees for doctors…), it helps if you’re resourceful and accustomed to thinking creatively — key when you’re stretching slim reserves in challenging climes. Speaking an Indian language is also a plus.

The Pay: No cash, but there’s always the karmic payoff. Plus, Apne Aap provides office space and a translator for your work. And they can help you track down a place to stay.

Downside: The psychological toll, says Ruchira. “It’s really disturbing to see that level of exploitation.”

Best part: The real compensation is the women and children you work with. “The best part is the human contact and the satisfaction of making a difference in the life of someone who’s the poorest of the poor,” Ruchira says. “The warmth that I got from the girls was so overwhelming, so inspiring.”


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"The best part is the human contact and the satisfaction of making a difference in the life of someone who’s the poorest of the poor.” — Ruchira Gupta, founder, Apne Aap and self-professed muckraker

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