The Movement to End Sex Trafficking With Gloria Steinem & Ashley Judd ♀ Apne Aap Women Worldwide

The Movement to End Sex Trafficking With Gloria Steinem & Ashley Judd ♀ Apne Aap Women Worldwide

Apne Aap Women Worldwide is a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking.

The dream is to live in a world in which no human is being bought or sold. That’s what the women and girls of Apne Aap stand for! Last week, I attended their first Gala with co-host philanthropist Emma Snowdon-Jones. The dinner reception and award ceremony were held at the historic Cosmopolitan Club in New York City where they awarded honorees activist Gloria Steinem, actress Ashley Judd, attorney Dorchen Leidhodlt and Mona Sinha.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 21: (L-R) Ruchira Gupta, Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem, Mona Sinha, and Dorchen Leidholdt attend the APNE Aap dinner on September 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by CJ Rivera/Getty Images)

During the event, we watched a short film by Bob Dylan’s granddaughter, Mae Mae Dylan, Call to Action with her work at Girls For The Last Girl. There was a special heart-touching performance by Indian American actress Dipti Mehta as well as inspiring words shared by all honorees, founders, and change-makers.

Apne Aap gave me a job, so I did not need to prostitute myself. Now I have a home. I can spend my life in a respectable way. Now I’m not afraid of anything. -Minu

The name in itself is uplifting, Apne Aap means “self-empowerment” in Hindi. Founded by journalist Ruchira Gupta and 22 courageous women in prostitution from Mumbai’s red light district who became the subject of Gupta’s Emmy award-winning documentary, “The Selling of Innocents,” (1996). This exposed trafficking of women from Nepal to India and started a movement gone global!

The Impact ↓

Since then it has helped more than 21,000 girls, women, and family members to be admitted into schools and colleges, gained government IDs, earned livelihoods, acquired bank accounts and successfully filed cases against traffickers. As a result, 66 traffickers have been arrested and laws in India have been changed by survivors of prostitution.

A true inspiration, journalist, author, and feminist activist — Gloria Steinem became nationally recognized as a leader and a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Lucky for me, I was able to interview her…

We’ve come a long way for humanity and still have so much further to go. We, my fellow journalist and inspiring friends Azadeh and Clara, approached Gloria and decided to do a collaborative interview — since there were SO many people trying to get some time with her.

We talked facts, inspiration, past, present and learning from one another. She asked about ‘doost’ (which means friend/love) and of course, I shared the meaning of the name, friend and love, to which she jokingly responded, “Anybody crazy enough to be a writer is definitely a friend.”

We asked Gloria what the impact of sex trafficking has been in the US and what she wishes everyone knew about human trafficking.

She blew my mind ↓

It’s important to know the scale of it because it is rivaling drugs and arms globally. And it’s important to know it’s not inevitable. People think that there has always been prostitution, but that’s just not true. It’s relatively new in human history and it comes from controlling women as the means of reproduction.

Sex trafficking didn’t exist on this continent until Columbus. The native cultures here, in America, use to be more humanitarian. Columbus wrote a letter about how confused he was by the egalitarian society. He just couldn’t understand why native women rebelled when being taken as sex slaves for his crew.

Then we blew hers ↓

Farsi is one of the languages where gender identification doesn’t exist. It’s fascinating how ancient languages don’t label based on gender.

Azadeh “brought up the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great and how in the first-ever human rights doctrine in history, men and women were equal. She (Gloria) was SO excited to learn about this and then mentioned how in Farsi (Persian language) there is no male or female distinction because older cultures WERE in fact much more advanced than now, and saw everyone as equal.”


I mentioned Girls for the Last Girl, a U.S.-based organization created to support the work of Apne Aap. Founded by five brave and bad ass future leaders with growing chapters — these 15 to 16-year-old girls from Los Angeles and NYC are impacting our worlds. I was beyond thrilled to meet such passionate hearts who are becoming a strong voice for the 1.4 million girls between 9 and 13 trapped in India’s prostitution. Love is the answer and you’re never too young to take action for a better world ♥ Meet them all here 


The Solution ↓

Together we can end sex trafficking. Through awareness and raising our voices — we make a difference! Sign the petition to tell the UN it’s time to end sex trafficking now. 

More about Apne Aap ↓

Apne Aap provides education, legal support, gov’t IDs and access to welfare as well as to income generating programs to at-risk and prostituted women and children.

Based in New York, they partner with organizations including Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Vital Voices and Equality Now to demand an end to sex trafficking.

To donate, please visit Apne Aap Donate. And to volunteer your time in New York, contact

Before you do anything, stop and recall the face of the weakest person you have seen, and ask yourself: Is what I am about to do going to help him regain his or her control of his destiny? – Mahatma Gandhi

Together we can end sex trafficking.