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UK award for anti-trafficking activist

Ruchira Gupta's voice against prostitution and flesh trade is recognised by Britons.
IANS | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON MAY 03, 2007 04:01 PM IST

Ruchira Gupta, founder-director of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a Kolkata-based organisation working against sex trafficking, has bagged a British award for her efforts.

The maiden Abolitionist Award was presented to Gupta on Tuesday at the British House of Lords to mark the birthday of the abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the British Empire.

"Trafficking of women and children for prostitution is a modern form of slavery. It is a shame that in this day and age we, as a society, allow the enslavement of women and children for the purpose of exploitation," Gupta tells Indian media from London on Thursday.

"Prostitution is utterly degrading and dehumanising and as a society, we should not allow this modern form of slavery to exist. It takes away freedom and deprives thousand of women and children of dignity and a future," she added.

In a career spanning 21 years, Gupta has worked as a journalist, filmmaker, activist and policy maker on issues related to violence against women and children.

"It does not have to be this way. We must change this. If this exists, it is our common disgrace that we let it. Ours is the age of democracy, so how can we allow the freedom of women and girls to be taken away?" asked Gupta, who has also won an Emmy for her documentary, "The Selling Of Innocents".

Gupta sits on the Indian Planning Commission's steering committee and is part of a working group of the women and children ministry. She was even honoured at the White House for her work to combat human trafficking.

Gupta was one of the "five heroes" to be honoured on Tuesday in the fight against modern-day slavery, human trafficking and its effects. The awards were presented at a parliamentary luncheon hosted by its presenters Geneva Global, Lord Alton of Liverpool and the John Templeton Foundation.

Various dignitaries from Britain and the US attended the event.

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