Seeing a Problem

“The first time I stepped into the brothel, the smell of stale urine was so pungent I had to pause. I was there to understand the problem more fully, and as I made my way deeper into the labyrinth of dark hallways, stepping over rats and up and down well worn stairs, I could hear the sound of abuse echoing off the walls and if these walls could talk, as the saying goes, few could stomach the stories. Young girls were sold, abused here, some never leaving here except through death. As I looked into the face of one of the women available for purchase, the need was clear, Aruna was born.” – RYAN BERG, Aruna Founder

Understanding the Factors

The complex issue of sex trafficking in India stems from multiple factors that all work together to contribute to a greater problem. It is important to understand the cultural context of this issue before trying to tackle ways to solve it.

  • Violence

    A household survey conducted in a major metropolis in South Asia reports that nearly 3 out of 4 women said they do not feel safe in their own surroundings.

    United Nations Women & International Center for Research on Women Report, 20 Feb. 2013.
  • Poverty

    Well over a billion people still subsist on less than $2 per day.

    Siddharth Kara, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. Columbia University Press, NYC, 2009, pg. 227-228.
  • Limited Education

    Over 550 million illiterate adults in the world are women, outnumbering men almost 3-1. This lack of education is a significant contributor to… vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking.

    UNESCO, United Nations Literary Decade, www.unesco.org/education/litdecade/.
  • Corruption

    Commenting on two young girls being gang raped, murdered, and hung by ropes on a mango tree, one political leader commented about rape as “sometimes right, sometimes wrong”.

    Associated Free Press, Thursday, June 11th, 2014.
  • Gender Bias

    In the a recent study, three out of four men in South Asia agreed with the statement “women provoke men by the way they dress,” and two out of five fully or partially agreed that “women moving around at night deserve to be sexually harassed.”

    United Nations Women & International Center for Research on Women, Report, 20 Feb. 2013

The combination of all of the above factors creates an environment in which sex trafficking thrives.

Finding a Solution

After on the ground research to understand the root causes, the specific context of the brothel systems in South Asia, and the constraints to sustainable freedom, we developed a model to bring and sustain freedom to the enslaved through employment marked by holistic care. By mobilizing thousands to take part in Aruna Runs across the US, we can bring freedom to the enslaved. By offering employment to those who have stepped into freedom, we can sustain their freedom and restore the liberating power of choice.

Our
Model
Run

Run for an exploited woman by name to raise awareness and money to help bring and sustain her freedom.

Employ

Employment through our freedom business provides a safe and secure environment for the women to grow, create, and build a firm foundation for their future.

Our
Model
Free

Funds raised enable the Aruna Project and our partners to continue to bring the choice of freedom to the enslaved through a training center and outreach programs in the brothel system.

Empower

Freedom restores the liberating power of choice to reclaim a sense of self worth and steps toward a better future through aftercare relationships.

Run

Run for an exploited woman by name to raise awareness and money to help bring and sustain her freedom.

Free

Funds raised enable the Aruna Project and our partners to continue to bring the choice of freedom to the enslaved through a training center and outreach programs in the brothel system.

Our
Model
Empower

Freedom restores the liberating power of choice to reclaim a sense of self worth and steps toward a better future through aftercare relationships.

Employ

Employment through our freedom business provides a safe and secure environment for the women to grow, create, and build a firm foundation for their future.

Out of Bondage, Into Hope

After women are free, they enter into an environment marked by holistic care where they begin the healing process from their past and begin to live life in the present while building a foundation for their future.

  • Transitional Housing

    Whether with us or one of our partner organizations, we provide safe housing where she can sleep peacefully in a caring community.

  • Living Wage

    Artisans earn an annual salary that exceeds the living wage for our region of the world and is 4-5xs the average wage for an unskilled laborer in textile manufacturing.

  • Financial Security

    From each pay cycle, money is put into a Provident Fund that serves as means for retirement in Artisans’ later years.

  • Counseling

    Each Artisans has the opportunity to work through an individualized care plan to help her on her path toward healing.

  • Health Care

    We provide access to health care for each Artisan that we employ.

Working Together

Through the Aruna Project (US non profit) and our Indian Private Limited Company (Indian for profit), we are able to sustain the freedom of those we employ. With trained and experienced staff in the US, highly skilled indigeouness leadership and various partnerships in the brothel areas in India, employment opportunity serves as the means to establishing freedom. As people in the US and globally both participate in Aruna Runs and purchase Aruna products, the impact is sustained freedom for the enslaved.

Celebrating Success

Women are being freed. Children are no longer at such high risk. Dignity is being restored. Artisans are finding their voice, establishing healthy relationships, and going back into the red light area to bring freedom to others.

*All names used are pseudonyms.
Priya's Story

Born the youngest daughter to a poor alcoholic, Priya was virtually invisible in her slum home. Upon a ‘recruiter’ coming to her village and speaking of the need for a young woman to work in the city, Priya was finally seen, but for all the wrong reasons. As a fresh and easily managed commodity, Priya was sold for less than $400 to a brothel owner. She was 13. She endured for months. The months turned to years. After about five years of abuse, she conceived. Against all odds she was able to carry the baby to full term while still enduring daily abuse in the brothel system. She gave birth only to see the child die four days later. Violence, abuse and death surrounded her. Within the next year she was forced to abort another pregnancy and learned that she had become HIV positive. Already facing a harsh cultural stigma, being HIV positive pressed her into a depth of darkness and depravity not worth describing. Somehow she survived and was set free. She was brought into an aftercare home marked by love and care. She was offered skill and trade development and took exceptionally well to the tailoring training. She is our first employee. “I never imagined life free from the brothel because I was a slave there. I tried to run away but never succeeded. I thought I have to live there till death.” She smiles big as she talks of freedom, “I want to enjoy my freedom, do things in my way, like get up late on holidays.” She continues, “and to become a master in tailoring.” She is well on her way.

Hear More Stories