Ruchira Gupta

Sex Trafficking Abolitionist, Journalist and Activist

Ruchira Gupta

Sex Trafficking Abolitionist, Journalist and Activist

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Kolkata-born Ruchira Gupta has been a leader in the global anti-trafficking abolitionist movement. She has been awarded the French Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, the Clinton Global Citizens Award, an Litterarum Humaniorum Doctoris from Smith College, the UK House of Lords Abolitionist Award, and the United Nations NGO CSW Woman of the Year Distinction Award, and an Emmy for her work to support victims and survivors of trafficking and her work to change laws and policies that can benefit them. 

Currently, she is a Distinguished Scholar at University of California, Berkeley and a Visiting Professor at

New York University. She is also the founder and president of Indian anti-sex trafficking organization Apne Aap Women Worldwide that has helped over 21,000 trafficked women, children and their family members break the cycle of intergenerational prostitution in Kolkata, Bihar, Delhi, and Mumbai, India. 

She has pioneered a holistic, community-centered approach that addresses both the vulnerability of at-risk girls and women and the victims and survivors of sex trafficking. This approach is now archived at Stanford Library as part of the Ruchira Gupta and Apne Aap Archives for the benefit of students and researchers globally. It has also been highlighted by UNICEF as a best practice. 

Her 1996 film, “The Selling of Innocents,” has had repercussions well beyond networks of criminal traffickers spreading from Kathmandu to Mumbai. In combination with her testimony to the US Senate, her documentary led, in one US senator’s words, to the passage of the first US law against human trafficking and similar action in nearly a dozen other countries. 

She has helped countries draft laws and policies against sex trafficking. In India, she provided the language based on the UN Protocol for the definition of trafficking in Section 370 I.P.C. of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013. In France, she worked with members of parliament and NGOs for the passage of a French law which has criminalized the purchase of sex and decriminalized prostituted persons. 

Gupta has worked for the United Nations in Iran, Nepal, Thailand, Kosovo, and the USA. She wrote the first manual in the world to address the demand for human trafficking for law enforcement officers, which was published by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). She also lobbied with other activists at the United Nations during the formulations for the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons — resulting in the first UN instrument to address demand for trafficking in Article 9. 

She advocated for the creation of the Trafficking Fund for Survivors at the United Nations by addressing the UN General Assembly twice and by taking survivors to speak there and to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

She is the editor of 5 books, including “River of Flesh: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction” and “As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader.” She has contributed chapters to over 8 books, including “Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry,” and her work has been featured in over 11 books, including “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof. She is the editor of ANTYAJAA: Indian Journal of Women and Social Change.

Gupta is on the board of Coalition against Trafficking in Women International (CATWI), CATW Asia- Pacific, Listen Charity, the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (CAP International) and serves on the advisory councils of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEM), and the NoVo Foundation’s Move to End Violence, among others. 

Her lifelong effort has been towards realizing her dream: to create a world in which no human being is bought or sold. 

Kolkata-born Ruchira Gupta has been a leader in the global anti-trafficking abolitionist movement. She has been awarded the French Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, the Clinton Global Citizens Award, an Litterarum Humaniorum Doctoris from Smith College, the UK House of Lords Abolitionist Award, and the United Nations NGO CSW Woman of the Year Distinction Award, and an Emmy for her work to support victims and survivors of trafficking and her work to change laws and policies that can benefit them. 

Currently, she is a Distinguished Scholar at University of California, Berkeley and a Visiting Professor at

New York University. She is also the founder and president of Indian anti-sex trafficking organization Apne Aap Women Worldwide that has helped over 21,000 trafficked women, children and their family members break the cycle of intergenerational prostitution in Kolkata, Bihar, Delhi, and Mumbai, India. 

She has pioneered a holistic, community-centered approach that addresses both the vulnerability of at-risk girls and women and the victims and survivors of sex trafficking. This approach is now archived at Stanford Library as part of the Ruchira Gupta and Apne Aap Archives for the benefit of students and researchers globally. It has also been highlighted by UNICEF as a best practice. 

Her 1996 film, “The Selling of Innocents,” has had repercussions well beyond networks of criminal traffickers spreading from Kathmandu to Mumbai. In combination with her testimony to the US Senate, her documentary led, in one US senator’s words, to the passage of the first US law against human trafficking and similar action in nearly a dozen other countries. 

She has helped countries draft laws and policies against sex trafficking. In India, she provided the language based on the UN Protocol for the definition of trafficking in Section 370 I.P.C. of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013. In France, she worked with members of parliament and NGOs for the passage of a French law which has criminalized the purchase of sex and decriminalized prostituted persons. 

Gupta has worked for the United Nations in Iran, Nepal, Thailand, Kosovo, and the USA. She wrote the first manual in the world to address the demand for human trafficking for law enforcement officers, which was published by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). She also lobbied with other activists at the United Nations during the formulations for the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons — resulting in the first UN instrument to address demand for trafficking in Article 9. 

She advocated for the creation of the Trafficking Fund for Survivors at the United Nations by addressing the UN General Assembly twice and by taking survivors to speak there and to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

She is the editor of 5 books, including “River of Flesh: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction” and “As if Women Matter: The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader.” She has contributed chapters to over 8 books, including “Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry,” and her work has been featured in over 11 books, including “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof. She is the editor of ANTYAJAA: Indian Journal of Women and Social Change.

Gupta is on the board of Coalition against Trafficking in Women International (CATWI), CATW Asia- Pacific, Listen Charity, the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (CAP International) and serves on the advisory councils of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEM), and the NoVo Foundation’s Move to End Violence, among others. 

Her lifelong effort has been towards realizing her dream: to create a world in which no human being is bought or sold.