Ajeet Singh was 18 when he first adopted a prostitute’s kid. Today he has rescued over 1000 girls from the racket of sex trafficking.
Ajeet has also helped provide justice to these minor girls by filing cases in the court of law against 1,400 traffickers. Many of these are today behind the bars serving time for their heinous crimes.
Read ahead to know more about how he challenged societal norms and broke the complex system of sexual exploitation that has been prevalent in Varanasi since years.
Ajeet Singh was attending a wedding in his home town near Varanasi in 1988 at the age of 18, when he saw a ‘nautch girl’ performing. The spectators were making lewd comments at her. He recalls being disgusted with the way they were looking and treating her. This shocked and moved him so deeply, that he was determined, to free these girls from such a demeaning profession.
Ajeet began his decades of selfless service with this same girl. He went up to her after the performance and asked her if he could take care of her children. He offered to teach them such that they could live better lives.
To do such a daunting and responsible challenge at the tender age of 18 is a mammoth task. However, Ajeet didn’t think twice about his decision and immediately adopted the three children of that girl.
He has a difficult time convincing his family which opposed him in this endeavour. But he stood resolute and determined. He says he knew, “this was what he had to do.” He also started teaching children from impoverished backgrounds in his spare time. He became their mentor and inspired them to dream of achieving higher goals in life, away from the nightmarish days of the streets they lived in.
He started visiting the red light areas of Varanasi frequently. He taught the children of sex workers living there. It was during these visits that he realised how much more complex and deeply this issue of sexual exploitation was spread. It almost had roots of it’s own, so deep, that they were almost indistinguishable.
It dawned on him that the whole profession and system was so complex that providing mere education to the kids or spreading awareness about health, HIV, etc., could not solve it. The issue was one of sexual slavery and the need was of abolishing this system of sex trafficking. It is only then that these girls could be saved.
Ajeet hence decided to adopt a more aggressive approach. He started an organisation called ‘Guria’ in 1993 to fight against sexual exploitation of these girls, especially minors. These girls needed to be empowered and encouraged for being free from the clutches of the profession they have helplessly landed into.
Ajeet decided to break the racket chain. He got some hidden cameras attached in the accessories on his body such as his pen, shirt button and watch. He started visiting such brothels and posing as a customer so that he could track the locations of these red light areas and the number of girls in each such house.
Once he had mapped this entirely he collected a number of volunteers and began raiding Shivdaspur, a famous red light area in Varanasi. On the first day itself, they were successful in rescuing 15 girls.
Since then his myriad raids have rescued over 1,000 girls. After the girls are rescued, they are transferred to the government owned shelter homes. These girls receive counselling there for a few days before being sent to their parents. A group of social workers closely track the progress of these girls and ensure that she is not forced or relapses into the same profession. “Today, I can say Varanasi is almost free from child prostitution”,claims Ajeet.
To ensure that this issue was eradicated from the very roots, Ajeet tackled the pimps and brothel owners, who play a key role in the prostitution racket next. “Even the police did not do anything and we thought it was time to bring this issue out in the open”,he says.
Ajeet’s organisation Guria started taking legal action against sex traffickers. They have filed over 1,400 cases against traffickers so far with successful prosecution results.
Guru also tries to ensure that the convicted do not get bail. The team works intensively towards the bail rejection of such convicts. Over 400 such bail requests have been rejected due to Guria’s passionate legal interventions.
“Often, these traffickers who get bail come out quickly and start doing what they did earlier. We make sure they stay in jail for a long time. Some of them have been in jail for about four to five years now”,says Ajeet.
The organisation acts as a support person for these victims of sexual exploitation by providing them witness protection, counselling during mock trials and preparation during evidence stage such that their statements reflect clearly about the crimes committed against them. Over 108 girls currently undergoing the trials are being protected and hidden at various locations.