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Kranti - A Ray of Hope for the Sex-Workers of Kamathipura

By Bhavana Gesota, Associate Editor @WordSwell, July 2023

“Randi ki beti randi hi banegi!” (in Hindi)

A whore’s daughter can only become a whore!


A line that daughters of sex workers from the Kamathipura, Mumbai’s notorious red-light district are all too familiar with. Society even before birth ordains them to become whores, their own aspirations, desires and dreams the crossed out knots on a barbed wire fence.

Not allowed.


Kamathipura is the oldest red-light district on the Indian subcontinent and the 2nd largest in Asia. Rows of 39 acres and a maze of 14 lanes make up this slum-like area surrounded by expensive South Mumbai real estate. Over the years the "business" of prostitution in this area has steadily declined due to a combination of social activism and the location being prime real estate that
builders are hankering to get their hands on. 
These numbers are not exact, but the number of sex workers has declined from 50,0000 in 1992 to roughly a 1,000 in present day. 

Now only lanes 11 and 12 remain the main areas where sex workers operate. Lane 1 is the transgender lane. The lanes are characterized by rows of dilapidated structures, lack of adequate sanitation, drains perpetually clogged, crowded brothels, pimps on the look-out for new customers, the brothel "madams" guarding access to their "products". 


Despite the decline, Kamathipura continues to be synonymous with prostitution. Its dark narrow alleys and windowless dingy cubicle-like internal spaces that are sealed shut from the outside world continue to hold stories of girls who have been sold, trafficked or manipulated into this trade, where their spirits are broken until all thoughts of escape are permanently erased. Trapped within a vortex of torture, both physical and mental, these girls face severe exploitation on a daily basis.

Even though the Supreme Court of India has legalized voluntary sex work and passed the verdict that sex work is a profession like any other profession and sex workers are entitled to equal status and equal protection under the law, the ground reality is far from rosy. Discrimination based on caste and gender, inadequate access to healthcare, isolation from the mainstream society, being looked upon as "dirty", lack of police protection leaves them vulnerable and unable to exercise their legal rights. And more importantly, most of these sex-workers do not enter this profession voluntarily. They are forced into until they reach a point of no return. Does that imply that now they are voluntary sex-workers?

What is KRANTI?
Website Instagram Handle @wearekranti


Kranti is an NGO based in Mumbai that takes in girls between the ages of 2 and 20 from Kamathipura. Kranti means “revolution” in Hindi and the girls who take refuge with Kranti are referred to as Krantikaaris or “revolutionaries". These are either girls who have been trafficked, daughters of sex-workers, or girls who were born and raised in Kamathipura. The mission of Kranti is to revolutionize everything about sex-work in India, the way these girls are looked at, the way society treats them, and their legal rights. Kranti seeks to break the glass ceiling of  “Randi ki beti randi hi banegi” by opening up the world and its opportunities where only the sky is the limit.

What sets KRANTI apart?

There are several nonprofits that work to provide rehabilitation, skills training, shelter and psychological counseling for these girls of Kamathipura.

Kranti on the other hand has taken a very different approach. This NGO goes far beyond rescuing girls, providing shelter and teaching them skills that would give them subsistence income such as pickle making, embroidery, sewing etc.

Kranti believes that when girls from the red-light areas have access to the same education, training, and opportunities as others, they will not only become talented leaders, but become far better leaders - more innovative, compassionate, and resilient due to their backgrounds and experiences. These girls bring added value as leaders and agents of social change, not despite their backgrounds, but because of their backgrounds. Kranti is not a rehabilitation home. It is a leadership training institute churning out revolutionaries who are breaking the glass ceiling.

Sandhya, one of the Krantikaris says, " My abuse can't stop me from what I can do. And my background can never be my weakness." 

Or Rani, another Krantikari says, "My past is my strength. If I was not born and raised in the red-light area, I wouldn't be here right now."

Robin Chaurasiya, co-founder of Kranti, has created a unique Social Justice curriculum that covers the key issues that affect the girls’ lives, such as caste, class, religion, environment and healthcare. The school week consists of Music Mondays, TED Talk Tuesdays, Worldly Wednesdays, Thinking Thursdays and Field Trip Fridays. Weekends include plays, films, and exhibits, as well as required volunteer work in an NGO of their choice.

These Krantikaaris, are turned into teachers and community leaders, creating a ripple effect of girls or women teaching each other. They have conducted workshops at schools and NGOs for more than 100,000 students and parents, and delivered 11 TEDx talks around the world. They have also written a play about their experiences - Lal Batti Express (Red Light Express), which they performed across the US and even at Facebook’s and Google’s headquarters.

Click on the links to learn more about Kranti's work -

Altering Fates - Robin Chaurasiya TEDxNITKSurathkal

Meet some of these revolutionaries

Bani Das and Robin Chaurasiya - Founders of Kranti

Robin Chauraiya, a woman of Indian origin, was born and brought up in the United States of America. A graduate in psychology and political science, Robin served as a Lieutenant in the United States Air Force until she was eventually kicked out for being a lesbian, under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ principle. She also holds a post graduate degree in gender studies.

Robin’s decisions in life stem from the many problems she herself faced - from her childhood of domestic violence and mother’s schizophrenia to being a brown woman and a socially unacceptable lesbian in the US.

In 2015, Robin was nominated for the prestigious $1 million prize, the Global teacher’s prize considered a Nobel equivalent in the global teachers community. 


Forced into marriage at 19, Bani came to Mumbai with her husband. Shortly after she gave birth to her daughter, her husband abandoned her. To support her mother, daughter & 4 sisters, Bani found work in Mumbai's largest anti-trafficking NGO. For 5 years, she conducted brothel raids & managed a 100-bed shelter home. In 2010 she joined Kranti's founding team & has since managed Kranti's finances, accounts & operations. Bani spends her (rare) spare time taking afternoon naps & watching animated movies with the Krantikaaris.

Join the Revolution

Like any other NGO, Kranti needs funding to continue their extraordinary work.

Take a look at the links below.

Reach out.



Take action.

Support their revolution.


Milaap fundraiser campaign 

Different ways you can help including volunteering - in-person or remotely.

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