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Instagram series that celebrates gender equality

The history of women’s movements in India still remains patchy and unfamiliar to most. An Instagram series by Delhi-based illustrator, graphic designer and comic book creator Kruttika Susarla traces important moments in the history of women and gender equality movements in India. Susarla highlights the role of some significant organizations, individuals and movements who changed the terms of debate around gender equality in India in different ways. The series has been careful to focus on intersectionality, by including the stories that reveal how caste, class and religion affect women in India.

Take a look!

The Pink Chaddi Campaign
In January 2009, a group of right-wing activists from Sri Ram Sena attacked women and men in a pub in Mangalore. Pramod Muthalik, the founder of the group claimed that it was a violation of Indian culture and announced that they would forcibly marry off unmarried couples seen in public on Valentine’s day. This caused nationwide outrage that eventually led to the Pink Chaddi Campaign—a non-violent protest where a group of young women sent pink briefs to Muthalik’s office. The campaign was started by Nisha Susan who is a writer, journalist and one of the founders of The Ladies Finger, a feminist online magazine. Muthalik received over 2000 ‘chaddis’ from across India and abroad—he and his supporters were held in preventive custody on Valentine’s eve by the state government.

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan
BMMA is a secular, Muslim feminist voice that emerged in 2007. Activist Zakia Soman founded the organisation to advocate for Muslim women’s equality and rights. Their focus is specifically to make reforms in the Muslim Personal Law in ways that would not oppress women and save them from marginalization. They seek to repel the practice of verbal Triple Talaq and polygamy + amend clauses in the Muslim personal law that not only leaves women at the mercy men in the family but also prevents them from inheriting any property. A draft for ‘Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act’ was released in June 2014

Anti-Dowry Movement
anti dowry
Delhi saw one of India’s first anti-dowry movements with the formation of ‘Shakti Shalini’ an NGO jointly set-up by Satyarani Chadha, feminist, artist and activist noted as the face of the anti-dowry movement in India along with Shahjehan Aapa, a middle-class working woman who would eventually become the face of the 1970s feminist movement in India. Satyarani’s 20-year-old 6 months pregnant daughter was burnt alive in her in-laws’ home following harassment for dowry. Following this, Satyaraniset on a 21-year fight against gender related harassment and violence and helped survivors empower themselves. She spoke about what kept her going and she says, “Every time a girl in a village dies in a dowry related incident, I see my daughter die!”

1stwomen’s school in India
savitribai phule
Savitribai Phule and her husband, Jyotirao Phule set up India’s 1stwomen’s school in BhideWadi, Pune in 1848. She’s considered one of India’s first modern intersectional feminists and a lot of organizations focused on working for gender equality follow the footsteps of the duo’s work. Through their efforts, they fought to represent minorities, educate women and fight gender and caste based oppression. At a time when it was uncommon for the girl child to go to school, she and her husband campaigned and convinced their community to encourage educating girls—they opened many schools for women and minorities and protested against ill-treatment of windows and rape victims.

Tulasi Mumda

Here’s The Story Of Tulasi Muda A.K.A Tulasi Apa

From starting in a verandah, Tulasi Munda‘s Adivasi Vikas Samiti School now provides education up to 10th standard. It enrolls over 500 students and interestingly, more than half of them are girls. Here’s everything you need to know about Odisha’s change maker!
The film TulasiApa has many interesting facets. Based on the life of Tulasi Munda, a social activist from a tribal community, it is the first biographical film in Odiya. The movie charts the hardships and struggles of a lone activist as she worked towards eradicating illiteracy and exploitation that was faced by mine workers in her region. Despite being a Padma Shri awardee and having taught more than 20,000 children in the last 40 years, she continues to remain a lesser-known figure.


Here’s everything you need to know about Odisha’s very own Tulasi Apa:
1. Tulasi was born in the year 1947, just a month short of India gaining independence from the British. Born in Keonjhar, one of the most backward regions of Odisha, Tulasi, very early in life displayed a different understanding of independence. She grew up with her own notions of freedom and slavery, unlike the conventional ideology that prevailed at large.
2. While other children tended to goats in the fields or worked in the mines, Tulasi wanted to study. Circumstances however were not kind enough and being the youngest amongst her siblings who went to work, Tulasi stayed at home helping her widowed mother with the household chores.
3. Her dreams of studying remained futile as there was neither a school in the village of Kainshi, where she was born, nor did anyone entertain the idea of educating their girl child.
4. Around the time she was 12 years old, Tulasi went to live with her sister in Serenda, another village in the Keonjhar district. Here she worked as a labourer in the iron mines, cutting stones and sifting iron from the waste; for which she was paid ₹2 per week. She never gave up hope and taught herself the alphabets as and when she could.
5. It was during 1961, when her undying thirst for learning brought her in proximity to great women like Malti Chaudhury, Roma Devi and Nirmala Deshpande, who were already well-known for their commitment towards educating women. Tulasi became a part in their village forays and struggles in different parts of the country.
6. It was also during this time that she met the social reformist Vinobha Bhave. He had visited Odisha during the Bhoodan Andolan Yatra. Inspired by his vision and commitment to donate land (bhoodan) and improve the lives of poor villagers, she set on a journey that would change the lives of many people from her village.
7. In 1964, she returned to Serenda and took up the resolution of fighting illiteracy and devoting herself to teaching children, especially girls. Tulasi believed that illiteracy was the worst form of enslavement and the root cause of everything evil around her – poverty, unemployment, drunkenness, superstition and fear.
8. Most villagers found the concept of education a waste of time for boys, who could work in the fields and mines to earn money, and preposterous for girls. However, Tulasi remained headstrong and managed to persuade Serenda’s local pradhan to let her use his verandah for a few hours of teaching.
9. As 30 tribal children trickled in, she started taking evening classes where alphabets and numbers were taught. The initial struggle of convincing parents was very tiresome. Tulasi had to visit each and every house, literally begging the parents to send their children for learning. She even sold murri (puffed rice) and vegetables to raise money.
10. More children were being left at Tulasi’s verandah classroom since many villagers worked all day long and could not look after their small children, something the teacher gladly obliged. Soon, the verandah was too small for of its occupants. In 1966, she shifted her school to a plot of land with a shed and began teaching the children under a Mahua tree.
11. Over the next 50 years, Tulasi helped establish 17 schools and succeeded in educating 20,000 boys and girls. Today, the Adivasi VikasSamiti School provides education up to 10th standard and enrolls over 500 students, more than half of whom are girls.
12. In the year 2001, Tulasi Munda was awarded the Padma Shri award in recognition of her undying spirit and sheer determination in eradicating illiteracy. Almost a decade later, she was bestowed with the Odisha Living Legend Award for Excellence in Social service.
An intriguing life tale isn’t it? Here’s what American journalistSydney J. Harrishad once said, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”

The List Of Moral Values You Teach Your Kids Is Useless If You Don’t Live By Them Yourself!

Raising a family in today’s fast-paced, complicated and ever changing world can make it confusing for a parent to decide just which values to teach their children. As parents, we know that it’s up to us to teach our child to differentiate between right and wrong.

However, it’s not possible (or practical in any way) to just draw up a list of moral values for children and lecture them about it! When it comes to instilling moral values in children and teaching them to know right and wrong, parents need to lead by example. Plus, it’s important to start young. Studies have shown that even very young children copy their parents.
Let’s Learn To Respect Others
This is one of the most important values to teach children. They need to understand and acknowledge other people’s sentiments or presence in their lives and respect views and choices that are not the same as theirs. Make it a point not to criticize people simply because they have opinions different from yours. If you do need to disagree with people in your child’s presence, do so politely.
Let’s Be Liberal and Obliging
This one moral value is best taught to children by action and not by mere words. As a parent, if you follow this, then chances are the little ones will pick this habit automatically. So, all you have to do is to just set a good example in front of them so that they realize the importance of being generous and helpful.

Let’s Indoctrinate A Sense Of Responsibility
This is one moral value that can be taught as early as in the toddler age group! Just start by teaching them the importance of taking care of their toys and to arrange them when they are done with their playing. Also, teaching pre-schoolers to put their clothes in the laundry bag or helping clear the table helps to inculcate a sense of responsibility – this will help them be independent in life.
Let’s Never Hurt Anyone
Children must be taught from an early age that they should not hurt anyone physically or emotionally. They must be taught that hurting someone is a very bad thing and even if they hurt a person unintentionally, they should apologize immediately.
Let’s Learn The True Value Of Sharing
Teach the little ones the essence of sharing is caring. Try to celebrate a festival or a birthday by distributing goodies to an orphanage. Make it a family ritual if you will to make some amount of charity a mandatory family affair. By helping those who truly need your help, you will help the kids to evolve as well.
Children observe their parents closely, so it is very important to lead by example. Watch what you do as a little pair of eyes is always looking up to you!


Kutchina Foundation collaborates with RACSHA, celebrate their 1st anniversary

Even after moving centuries away from the stone age, why is it still so much of a taboo to talk about child sexual abuse? Why do family members in the know not help a child in distress? Why is the honor of a family so important that it prompts many to brush things under the carpet even if it means compromising on the well-being of a child?

Kutchina Foundation Women Empowerment Centre recently collaborated with RACSHA to commemorate its 1st anniversary. RACSHA that stands for Rise Against Child Sexual Harm & Abuse is an advocacy network of individuals and organizations fighting to prevent the mincing child sexual abuse that’s eating at the very core of our superfluous societal values! West Bengal’s State Minister for Information & Culture and the Chairperson of West Bengal Child Protection Committee were honorable speakers and guests for the evening.

The case of child sexual abuse in India
According to a research done by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in India, 53% of children are victims of child sexual abuse in India. Globally speaking, India ranks second in terms of the highest rate of child sexual abuse. What is more worrying is the fact that mostly child sexual abuse is incestuous in naturewhich means that it is committed by a person who is a family member and has an easy access to the child.
To address the child sexual abuse hogwash, RACSHA was born. RACSHA is a network of organizations and individuals working for the prevention, recognition, addressing and healing of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. RACSHA is based in Kolkata and they have teachers, activists, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, social workers, special educators and corporates on their team.


RACSHA’s primary aims are – campaign, prevent and intervene to fight the root cause of child sexual abuse and collaborate with the Government to prevent such crimes. RACSHA comprises lawyers, doctors, teachers, activists, software professionals, social workers and others who are helping the programme to grow.
RACSHA completed a year on June 3rd 2017 and to mark the occasion, they celebrated the evening with Kutchina Foundation Women Empowerment Centre. Kutchina Foundation Women Empowerment Centre relentlessly works towards identifying, empowering and rewarding women of substance from the disadvantaged sections of our society.
Kutchina Foundation aspires to extend all round care and support to the disadvantaged girl child and women, thereby creating a pool of empowered and talented women activists and workers who would be the force multipliers in our society. For Kutchina Foundation, CSR is an inner calling carried forward with utmost passion, professionalism and care.


Domestic Violence laws in India – Know your rights!

On papers, women hold a society’s index of cultural and spiritual attainment. But, we know how much truth this statement holds, don’t we? From birth to her death bed, a woman’s life is a struggle. Know your rights! Know the domestic violence laws in India.

What does domestic violence signify?

  • Domestic violence basically means any violent or aggressive behavior of any person within the home.
  • A violent quarrel between a couple which may force a female spouse to file for mental harassment under domestic violence act and other provisions of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
  • According to the new laws in India, men can also file for domestic violence which can come under the category of domestic abuse, family violence arising in the relationships such as marriage including relationships with family members, family friends etc. and it can be in various forms such as physical aggressions, sexual abuse, emotional abuses etc.

What is the Domestic Violence Bill? 

Domestic Violence Bill is a Bill that provides all women in the domestic relationship, whether marriage or live-in, a right to seek legal action against her male partner if she perceives her male partner’s conduct is a form of domestic violence. If the complaint is lodged, a protection officer, predominantly a female, will pass restraining orders and give a second chance to reconcile. If the woman complains yet again, the male partner, irrespective of his family background and social status, will be convicted with 1-year imprisonment and fine of Rs. 20,000/- without any further enquiry.

In 2016, the Supreme Court struck down the words “adult male” from the pertinent provision in the Domestic Violence Act to lay down that a woman can also file a complaint against another woman, accusing her of domestic violence.


Under Section 2(q) of the 2005 Act, a complaint can be made only against an “adult male person”, thereby insulating women from being accused of offences mentioned under the law.


What constitutes domestic violence?

Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 states what constitutes domestic violence: –

(a) Threats to health, safety, life etc., whether mental or physical, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse

(b) Harassment through any forms such as harms, injuries to the aggrieved person by coercing her or any other person related to any unlawful demand for dowry or other property or valuable security

(c) Injuring or causing harm, through physical or mental means to the aggrieved person.

Domestic violence can be filed against whom?

In the present day scenario, complaint can be filed against any adult male member who is in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act including other family members such as mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law etc. or any relative of the husband or male partner.

In 2016, the Supreme Court struck down the words “adult male” from the pertinent provision in the Domestic Violence Act to lay down that a woman can also file a complaint against another woman, accusing her of domestic violence.


Under Section 2(q) of the 2005 Act, a complaint can be made only against an “adult male person”, thereby insulating women from being accused of offences mentioned under the law.

Punishment against Domestic Violence:

  • There are various regulations or provisions being made for protection of women against domestic violence under the statute such as Sec.304B of IPC pertaining to dowry death.
  • Under section 313-316 of IPC female infanticide has been made punishable which means forcefully terminating the pregnancy of a women.
  • Other sections of IPC dealing with these issues are section 305-306 related to abetment of suicide and 340,349 of IPC respectively wrongful confinement and wrongful restraint.
  • A complaint can also be filed under section 498A of IPC for cruelty which also falls under domestic violence.

Is domestic violence gender neutral?

Yes, domestic violence in India is gender neutral because according to research and studies, it is clear that the number of men and women who commit violence toward each other is equal but women are more likely to report act of violence then men in India.

The reason for violence both in men and women are different –

  • men turn violent when they feel a sense of powerlessness such as when they are not able to overcome what they want
  • women turn violent when they are frustrated or do not get their spouse’s attention.

Hence it can be said that men and women are both the victims of domestic violence and hence an inclusive approach must be taken to help families resolve conflict.

What should a victim of domestic violence do?

  • Call 100 or 1091(women emergency helpline number) and report it to the concerned authority.
  • If possible, write down the police report or incident number and keep with records.
  • Seek medical attention if required.
  • Move to domestic violence shelter as stated under section 6 of protection of women from Domestic Violence act, 2005.
  • Seek support of caring people on whom you trust or who would maintain your privacy.
  • File for protection order as stated under section 18 of Domestic Violence act so that the abuser can stay away from you.

Despite a lot of pessimism, law in India prevails and it’s there to protect you from harm. All you have to have is a little faith in the system.

Information Sources: Law Farm,, Feminism In India


8 Influential Women Who’ve Altered History!

James Brown has said, “this is a man’s world,” but here are 8 women who’ve changed the world we live in today. They have revolutionized everyday tasks with their inventions, smashed the glass ceiling to smithereens in the business world, fought for our rights and continue to push for further inclusion and diversity. Take a look.

Here are women who have left a mark on the world that would change people’s thinking for decades — in some cases centuries — to come.

  1. Mother Teresa

Originally from Macedonia, Mother Teresa was a Catholic nun. Although she spent the majority of her life in India, her international charity work included helping evacuate hospital patients in war torn Lebanon, doing earthquake relief in Armenia and ministering to famine victims in Ethiopia. She founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the sick and poor. Among many other honors, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.” In 2016, Mother Teresa was declared a saint in a canonization Mass held by Pope Francis in the Vatican.

  1. Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero, General Aung San and she became involved in politics and activism after being inspired by the non-violent campaigns of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. In 1988, during a time of major political upheaval in Myanmar, she organized rallies calling for peaceful democratic reform and free elections. However, the demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the army, who seized power in a 1988 coup, and Aung San Suu Kyi, as Chairperson of the opposition party, was placed under house arrest.

She is one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners having been under house arrest for almost 15 until her most recent release in 2010. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her commitment to peaceful resistance against military-ruled Myanmar, and for a life spent championing democracy and human rights.

  1. Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani advocate for girls education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. In 2009, when Malala was just eleven she began blogging about life under the Taliban, speaking out directly against their threats to close girls’ schools. Pakistan has the second highest number of children out of school and two-thirds of them are female. The blog on BBC Urdu garnered international attention while also making her the target of death threats. In October 2012, a gunman shot her and two other girls as they were coming home from school. Malala survived the attack and in 2013 published an autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. In October 2014, Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

  1. Indira Gandhi 

She was the first female prime minister of India. The charismatic and epoch-making personality of Indira Gandhi left her imprint not only in the affairs of her own country but also in international affairs. She belonged to that noble galaxy of great leaders who wielded extraordinary power. Indira Gandhi was an Indian to the core but at the same time her vision went far beyond her own nation and embraced the entire human race. By virtue of being the Prime Minister of India, the largest democracy in the world, she was able to make a significant contribution to the practice of inter-national relations. She enjoyed well-deserved prestige and profound respect on the international scene.

She was in power from between 1966–77 and 1980–84. She championed the cause of international peace, disarmament, anti-colonialism and anti-racialism. Under her dynamic stewardship India’s voice was heard with respect in various international oranisations and forums.  Accused of authoritarian tendencies she only narrowly avoided a military coup by agreeing to hold an election at the end of the “emergency period” of 1977. She was assassinated in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards, in response to her storming of the Golden Temple.

  1. Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi was born and bred in the holy city of Amritsar, Punjab. She is a social activist and the first woman IPS officer in the country. She has not only served her department with full conviction, but has also made whole-hearted contribution to many social causes. A former tennis player, the multi-talented social activist from Amritsar is credited for bringing down the number of crimes against women in West Delhi during her service. She introduced several reforms at Tihar Jail, which gained worldwide acclaim and won her the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1994. In 2003, Kiran became the first Indian woman to be appointed as a Police Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in the Department of Peace Keeping Operations. She resigned in 2007 to focus on social activism and writing. She has written several books, and runs the India Vision Foundation.

  1. Irom Sharmila

Irom Sharmila popularly known as the “Iron Lady of Manipur” is the most recognizable face of the conflict-ridden state in the North East. In spite of not clearing her class XII, she has become an “icon of public resistance” in her state. For Irom, her father has had a great influence in her life. On November 2, 2000, she began a hunger strike after the “Malom Massacre” where 10 people were killed, which had a major impact on her. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been recognized as “the world’s longest hunger striker”. On International Women’s Day, 2014 she was voted as the top woman icon of India by MSN Poll.  Though Irom has refused both water and food, the government continues to force feed her. Every year, she is arrested on charges of attempt to suicide and her resolve hasn’t broken yet.

  1. Laxmi Agarwal

Laxmi Agarwal is an Indian campaigner with Stop Acid Attacks and a TV host. She is an acid attack survivor and speaks for the rights of acid attack victims. She was attacked in 2005, at age 15, by a 32-year-old man whose advances she had rejected. She has also advocated against acid attacks through gathering 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales and taking that cause to the Indian Supreme Court. Her petition led the Supreme Court to order the central and state governments to regulate the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue. She is the director of Chhanv Foundation, a NGO dedicated to help the survivors of acid attacks in India. Laxmi received a 2014 International Women of Courage award by US First Lady Michelle Obama. She was also chosen as the NDTV Indian of the Year. She is also the face of Viva and Diva, promoting all girls to reflect on their inner beauty rather than exterior appearance.

  1. Shaheen Mistri

Shaheen is the CEO of Teach for India and the Founder of Akanksha Founder.  She has earned global recognition for her dedication and commitment to the fight for educational equity. Born in Mumbai to a Parsi family, she had an international upbringing. However, she soon realized that children living in the Mumbai’s city slums lacked access to quality education and were deprived of the skills necessary to compete in India’s formal, competitive job market. She founded the first Akanksha Centre in 1989, a non-profit education project that provides after-school tutoring to children from low-income communities. As the recognition of Akanksha’s work grew, Shaheen saw an opportunity to expand her reach even further and work for more transformative changes she launched Teach For India in 2008. Since then, the organization has recruited, trained, and placed nearly 1,700 Fellows in schools across seven cities. Shaheen is an Ashoka Fellow (2001), a Global Leader for Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum (2002), and an Asia Society 21 Leader (2006).  She also serves on the boards of Ummeed. Shaheen has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Manchester, England.

You are fearless, you are strong, you are a tigress on the prowl, what’s stopping you from changing the world?


4 Reasons Why Empowering The Girl Child Matters

“Without women empowerment, India cannot progress” ~ Shri Narendra Modi

  • Did you know that among the 1.4 million people all over the world who are living below $1 a day, about 70% are women and girls?
  • Did you know that women account for around 2/3rd of the world’s working hours and earn only 10% of the world’s income?
  • Did you know that women produce HALF of the world’s food and own only 1% of its land? And of the 900 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write, about 2/3rd are women!? Need we add more?

Do we have to underline the fact that when we empower girls, everybody benefits, the nation benefits? They transform communities yet the reality remains that women are treated as second-class citizens. We give you 4 reasons why empowering the girl child can be a revolutionary decision we will never regret.

  1. Adding force to the employed sector: Women constitute around 50% of the world’s population and an enormous portion of this populace is unemployed. This unequal opportunity for women at workplaces and even at home may be one of the reasons why the world economy has been suffering. When women are empowered and educated, they have a lot more earning potential, thus adding to a nation’s GDP growth and numbers to the betterment of the economy.


  1. They are more competent & intelligent: Needless to say, women who are only considered the weaker sex are in reality extremely competent. Today, women, in several socio-economic undertakings are way ahead of men. Women and girl child empowerment India will add to competitive environment for both sexes.


  1. They are a talented lot: Women are as talented as men are, probably more! Haven’t you witnessed how efficiently they run their households? Formerly, when women were not allowed higher education like men, their talents were wasted. However, at the moment, they are not only allowed to undertake higher studies, it encourages and empowers women to demonstrate their talents which not only advance her individually but also makes her ready for action to take on the world.


  1. All-inclusive progress of the society & financial benefits: The foremost benefit of women and girl child empowerment India is that there will be a complete development of the society. The money they earn will not only help them to be independent, but also their families to be sufficient and thus the society as a whole.


Women and girl child empowerment leads to additional economic benefits not only to individual, their families but also the society. Women get out of their houses to earn like the male members. Money enable them to stand on their feet and earn for their families which helps boost the country’s economy.

Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao!

Literally meaning ‘Educate the Girl Child, Save the Girl Child’ the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao Scheme is an ambitious scheme of the Government of India. It is intended to generate massive awareness, improvement of quality of welfare services for females and helping them access these services better.


There is an urgent need to change this archaic mindset of the patriarchal society which views girls as liabilities. Girls are in no way less than boys! When given the right chances to nurture their talent and skills, they have it in them to excel in all areas of life. It is therefore imperative that all of us work in cohesion to spread the message of saving and educating the girl child to lay the foundation for girl child empowerment.


The perils of sexual exploitation. One woman’s story of how she wasn’t one to stay quiet!

53% of children in India are victims of sexual abuse, out of which, most abusers were known to the child and were trusted. Most did not report the matter to anyone. Why? Speaking about sexual abuse is considered taboo in our society and the victim is always accounted answerable. Here’s the story of Sutapa Patre, who despite having faced sexual abuse all her life decided to fight for her rights and become a role model for others. 

Here are some more stats to show how profound and gruesome sexual exploitation and human trafficking is. And mind you, these numbers are only India specific. Globally, almost 80% of the human trafficking is related to sexual exploitation, while the rest is bonded labor. India is the hub of these crimes in Asia. Illegal procuration of minor girls for sexual exploitation and/or bonded labor rose drastically by 416% between 2009-13. It was 237 in 2009, while the number increased to 1224 in 2013. Appalling isn’t it?

Sutapa’s own house brings back memories of trauma she’d faced as a child; memories she cannot erase…memories that will haunt her for life…memories that makes her the resolute woman that she is today. As a child, Sutapa had faced sexual abuse from close relatives. When she tried to confide in her parents, she was asked not to reveal it to anyone in case the family name was blemished. Amusingly, she was told to dodge her abusers when they came around. One day, she decided that she’ll not allow the pains to bother her. Sutapa decided not to stay shut. She took up training in Wenlido, a system of self-defence that involves physical and mental techniques in fending off attackers. The moves can help tackle sexual, verbal and physical abusers. It’s specifically designed for women. She mastered the art so that no man could ever violate her again.

Over a period of time, what started as an expedition of self-defense, gradually transformed into her extending a helping hand to others who have undergone the same predicament as her. Sutapa has empowered hundreds of girls and young women across West Bengal by training them in Wenlido.

“In most cases of sexual abuse, the tormentor is someone from the family. I grew up tormented. So I wanted to help others so that they didn’t go through the hell like I did” adds Sutapa.

Sutapa’s journey out of her village was cakewalk. Born into a famer’s family in Kamalpur village of Sunderbans, eyebrows were raised when she left the village for her education. Though her parents were supportive, neighbors and relatives questioned the decision. “What was the need to send a girl to school?” was the unanimous demand. But none of this deterred Sutapa. Alongside her education, Sutapa trained in Wenlido. Once she got a trainer’s certificate, she started sharing the martial arts form with other girls.

“Wenlido teaches a woman to not only apply physical moves but also mental techniques to ward off attackers. Unlike other forms of martial arts, many moves of Wenlido can be picked up in only three sessions.” she said.

From schoolgirls to homemakers, many have benefited from Sutapa’s lessons.

Sutapa has set up Amader Prerana in 2008 with the vision to help girls and women stir a greater sense of value and confidence within themselves. Sutapa takes keen interest in the day-to-day activities of the organization as she helps women realize their power and capacities.

Sutapa wants to work with 5 to 10 schools so that more girls can be trained. Sutapa dreams of a violence free world where women are viewed as equal citizens with valid claims to justice and freedom.


Tumpa – born in a red light area, this woman gave birth to a revolution!

More than one million girls are enslaved to brothels across India. They are enticed, deceived or kidnapped by traffickers and forced to work in India’s notorious red light districts, attending up to ten or even more men a day. They are physically abused and mentally tortured that scar them for lives.


Tumpa was born to a sex worker in Kolkata where law enforcement is stretched to the limits, child exploitation exists in epidemic proportions and the poor dwellers have no one to call. Tumpa inhabited the dismal gullies of the brothel and like any other child her age, would have had many dreams, lead a normal life, go to school and be respected by the society at large. But, her only fault…she was born into a brothel and scarred for life.  


However, Tumpa chose to be the phoenix risen from the ashes. Born to a sex worker, she would have been forced into the trade to fill into her mother’s shoes, but this 28-year old chose to write her own destiny. She founded Diksha, an anti-trafficking youth-run programme in Kalighat’s red-light area working towards child protection inspiring others through her relentless efforts to provide them the option to seek a life outside the flesh trade. Tumpa adds, “This is the first such center within this area for sex workers’ children. We have introduced a TV for entertainment, music, drawing and dance classes for the youngsters and we assist them in their studies and serve light snacks when they return from school. Many of us now study and earn degrees. Being born in a red-light area doesn’t mean being doomed anymore.”


Tumpa believes every child deserves the best chance for a bright future and she is fiercely committed to ensuring children to not only survive, but thrive giving them a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm through regular mentoring, cultural support and training. She is an out-and-out champion who takes in against the world alone to save the vulnerable children.


Along with this, with the assistance from Kutchina Foundation, Tumpa has also set up a Kutchina Krittika Tumpa Adhikary learning centre in Kalighat. “I was ashamed of where I lived. I could never tell my friends about my mother. By the time I was in the fifth standard, I – like most of the girls in my area – had completely grown up. So when I tried to take a stand against the system, our own mothers thought we were biting off more than we could chew” says Tumpa.


She’s also set up a skill training & women empowerment centre in Kalighat to create business ventures for older sex workers who have been cast aside by their own. Incidentally, she also takes care of her 60-year-old retired mother – after her two brothers refused to do so. Her voice is steady and sturdy when she says, “Just because I belong to the fairer sex, doesn’t make me indispensible. I’ll make sure others like me who suffer the same plight are safe from prowling hands.”


In 2017, Tumpa who is currently working within and around Kalighat, wants to expand her services to more regions across Kolkata. She’s also looking at working with other slums where she can develop safe areas for children and give them better and safer opportunities to thrive.
Tumpa continues to live in the Kalighat red light area even though she has plenty of opportunities to leave it behind.


Sutapa Patra – When self-defense came to her rescue

“What an achievement for India. They are now the number 1 rape nation of the world.” These were the words of a reader after he read an article on a leading daily concerning the mass molestation that happened in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve.

Shameful and hurtful as it sounds, statistics have suggested that nearly 53% of children in India are victims of sexual abuse, out of which, most abusers were known to the child or were in a position of trust and responsibility. Most did not report the matter to anyone. Why? Speaking about sexual abuse is considered taboo in our society and the victim is unashamedly accounted answerable.

Sutapa knew she would be held accountable for the torments of sexual abuse, mostly by family members, that she’s faced through her life. She knew she’d held responsible for being a woman, for failing to say ‘NO!’, accusing her that she’d ‘asked for it’. When she tried to confide in her parents, she was told not to reveal it to anyone lest it brought a bad name for the family. Instead, she was told to avoid her abusers when they came around. She didn’t let these nuisances annoy her. Sutapa decided not to stay shut.

Determined, she learned Wenlido, a system of self-defence that involves physical and mental techniques in fending off attackers. The moves can help tackle sexual, verbal and physical abusers. It’s specifically designed for women. After she mastered the skills, she taught it to others and helped them fight abuse and violence against them. “A woman can be harassed anywhere,” Sutapa added. “It’s thus important for them to know how to defend themselves.”

What started as a journey to defend herself, turned into her extending a helping hand to others like her. The valiant woman has empowered hundreds of girls and young women by training them in the art of self-defence. Sutapa has set up Amader Prerana in 2008 with the vision to help girls and women stir a greater sense of value and confidence within themselves. Sutapa takes keen interest in the day-to-day activities of the organization as she helps women realize their power and capacities. Sutapa has successfully reached more than 700 women and girls, both urban and rural and changed their lives through Wenlido.

Sutapa says powerfully, “”In most cases of sexual abuse on young girls, the tormentor is someone from the family. I grew up tormented. So I wanted to help others so that they don’t go through hell like me.”

In the forthcoming year, she wants to work with 5 to 10 schools so that more girls can be trained. Sutapa dreams of a violence free world where women are viewed as equal citizens with valid claims to justice and freedom.