LET us share the story of a young child named Renu. Renu was born and raised in the vicinity of Pune’s red-light district. Day after day and night after night, she would witness unknown men enter and leave the bedroom of her small and dingy house, where her mother would remain for hours behind a closed door. Her mother constantly had wounds and bruises all over her body and when Renu saw this, she was determined to never follow in the footsteps of her mother. In Renu’s mind, all she wanted was a path to exit this dark and dangerous world

Renu is one of the children fortunate enough to be given this path by Swadhar Institute for the Development of Women and Children, an NGO for children trapped and exploited in red light districts. Based in Pune, Swadhar focuses on getting children out of the red light districts and giving them a platform to build safe and successful lives through education, counseling, nutrition, activities and the chance to enjoy happy childhoods. 

This is exactly what happened for Renu, who was taken in by Swadhar, offered a safe place to live, fed nutritious meals each day, counseled, enrolled in school and given the chance to live as a child should – away from the horrors of the red light district. Renu’s determination never wavered and she is now preparing to write her final 12th grade exams.

To get a glimpse of how Swadhar cares for children rescued from the red light district, watch this short campaign video here: 

How do children end up in red light districts?

It is common for criminals and traffickers to coerce or abduct children into brothels. The methods that were previously used included trapping children in public places like bus stands and railway stations and either drugging them or luring them away from their parents or guardians. But in this digital world, criminals and traffickers are using social media platforms to befriend and trap children into a lifetime of abuse. By their very nature, children are innocent, vulnerable and trusting of adults. So when people are seemingly nice to them, they have no reason to suspect or question their motives. 

But the children at Swadhar end up in the red light districts for a different reason. Their mothers are sex workers who keep their children with them in the places where men come to them for sex. This is a dangerous environment for a child. In many cases, the children are accosted, molested and raped by these men. Trapped and unable to cope with the terror of living among adults who may harm them at any time, these innocent children are terrified. With no prospects for the future, the children’s innocence is stripped from them and they have no choice but to make a life for themselves in and around the red light districts.

a girl looking out of a grill window

How does Swadhar help these innocent children?

Swadhar Institute for the Development of Women and Children is an NGO for children that is on a mission to save children from sexual abuse and exploitation in brothels. The NGO for children runs a 24/7 facility that is fully-functional and is equipped with a kitchen to cook free and nutritious meals, a pre-school, an e-learning center and opportunities to engage in recreational and educational activities. The NGO for children also ensures that medical attention is given to make sure the children are in good health. 

When it comes to education, the children are home-schooled for 6 months by Swadhar IDWC before being enrolled into mainstream schools. The preparatory education the children receive for six months is crucial because many may not have experienced formal schooling before. But the NGO for children provides a guiding hand to make sure that the children do not lose their academic footing and can succeed in the future. 

a woman and girl sitting on a bed and talking

Sanjivani Hingne is the Secretary of Swadhar IDWC and she shares that “right from cleaning, bathing, new clothes, feeding, medical care, seeing that the child is ready for school – all of this is taken care of at our NGO for children because it is impossible to do in a red-light area. So far, we have taken care of 200 children and most of them are now in higher education institutions or have finished school with flying colours. Now, we need more funds because the number of children is increasing and we want to take in more children”.

What drives Sanjivani Hingde to help children trapped in brothels?

Sanjivani Hingde shares the traumatic experience that led her to make it her mission to save children from sexual exploitation. She shares, “I saw a two-year-old child being sexually violated, a two-year-old child. She was crying and bleeding profusely from her tiny body. I carried her in my arms and rushed her to the hospital.” 

This experience is just one of many that has since shocked Sanjivani Hingde to the core. She goes on to share that “when a child grows up in the dangerous environment of red light districts where prostitution is rampant, they are not only in danger but are deprived of what a child needs.” In severe danger and deprivation, these children are also unable to leave the area. So the NGO for children brings care and protection to the children to eradicate the source of harm and prepare them for safe and fulfilled futures. 

a woman playing with a group of children

Support Swadhar IDWC’s compassionate mission 

Swadhar IDWC is on the verge of having to shut down and close its doors to children in the red light areas of Pune due to a lack of funds. But your support can change this. Sanjivani Hingde appeals to donors to “please donate so we can make a safe, secure and loving home for these precious children.” To support Swadhar Institute for the Development of Women and Children, you can donate here:

Support Swadhar IDWC


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