Trafficked girls who survived days of trauma poured their hearts out at the HT Woman Awards-2015, telling their horrifying tales of forced servitude, escape and recovery to a select gathering, which heard them in sheer disbelief.
Hearing them with rapt attention were chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, his MP wife Dimple, actors Pooja Bhatt and Sushant Singh and others. The celebrity guests and the state’s power couple looked visibly moved as survivors narrated their plight. A powerful theatrical skit on the theme only magnified the emotion.
Akhilesh Yadav was quick to announce that his government would do its bit to not just check trafficking but also help the survivors. “After HT Woman Awards last year, we set up the Rani Laxmi Bai Samman Kosh to award brave women. We are also setting up Asha Jyoti Kendras for medical treatment and psychological conditioning of distressed girls. We would also take up the issue of trafficking in the right earnest now,” he said.
When a girl from the audience wanted to know if his government would provide scholarships to girls to pursue studies abroad, Yadav said, “You have raised the issue and I will try to ensure it.”
Earlier at the function, Dimple Yadav had announced that she would ensure that the “government initiates some novel initiatives to curb trafficking.”
The event witnessed a poignant moment when one of the survivors told actor Pooja Bhatt that while in the movie ‘Sadak’ actor Sanjay Dutt had rescued her, in real life there were no Sanjay Dutts and one had to fight one’s battle alone.
Bhatt later complemented HT for raising the issue of trafficked women and exhorted women to be their own ‘Sanjay Dutts and Arnold Schwarzeneggers’. She said: “Don’t wait for them. Become one yourself.”
Actor Sushant Singh wanted women to work for change in the mindset of the society. “If you are able to change of the mindset of your menfolk, crime against women would reduce by 50%,” he said.
Directed by Suryamohan Kulshrestha, the powerful and moving theatrical sketch depicted the plight of trafficked women told through a dialogue between a mother and her dead daughter.
Folk art was introduced as a new category in the awards this year. While Usha Gupta, a polio-hit girl from Mirzapur, raised the issue through her folk performance, Seema Patel gave a glimpse into fading the folk art Dhunmuniya Kajri.
The awards, which celebrated women achievers from all across the state – from the urban Lucknow to the remotest, rural parts – sought to bridge the notorious rural-urban divide. By the time the programme ended, the emotionally surcharged atmosphere had given way to smiles and cheer for all the women achievers of 2015.
The winner Madhuri Singh from Varanasi created Garib Banks for marginalised women , without any outside support. Anoja Devi from Jalaun in Bundelkhand was the first runner-up and Naheed Aqueel from Lucknow second runner-up. HT Special Award went to young Jainab from Meerut. She was a child labourer, who stitched footbalss. She is now encouraging parents to educate their children and has already got 500 girls enrolled in schools.
HT Woman Award: Madhuri Singh
First Runner up: Anoja Devi
Second runner up: Naheed Aqueel
Readers choice: Pooja Agarwal
Lifetime achievement: Dr Krishna Mukherjee
Judge’s choice: Sanjog Sharma
HT Special award: Jainab
Bravery Award: Parul Verma
Folk Art: Madhuri Sharma
10) Young entrepreneur – Nida Rizvi