The Rescue Foundation, a Mumbai-based NGO that frees teenage girls from forced prostitution, was presented with the 2010 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award in Taipei on Friday. Taiwanese President, Ma Ying-Jeou awarded the prize to the group's president, Triveni Balkrishna Acharya.
The NGO frees about 300 girls each year, all victims of trafficking and prostitution. It also provides HIV tests and treatment, job training and emotional support to the rescued women. The Rescue Foundation is the fifth recipient of the annual award given by the not for profit, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. The award comes with a cash grant of $100,000.
The foundation established the award to promote democracy and freedom in Asia. It is presented on the International Human Rights Day each year. In his speech at Friday's ceremony, Ma urged China to release the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, a dissident serving an 11-year jail term. The Nobel presentation is to be held Friday in Oslo without Liu.
"The government of the Republic of China welcomes the Norwegian Nobel Committee's issuing the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo," Ma said. "We also call on Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo as soon as possible." Ma said human rights are a universal value. "We are concerned about human rights regardless of nationality or national boundaries," he said.