Civil Courage Prize
for steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk

For Immediate Release, October 12, 2011
Contact: Barbara Becker, EqualShot, 212-375-0661

Leading Figures in the fight against sex trafficking win 2011 Civil Courage Prize

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, Mexico & Triveni Acharya, India to be honored Michelle Bachelet, UN Women, to keynote

New York, NY — Lydia Cacho Ribeiro of Mexico and Triveni Acharya of India will receive the 12th annual Civil Courage Prize in New York on October 19. The Prize of $50,000 will be divided between the two women in acknowledgement of their leadership roles in the fight against the abuse of women and children.

Michelle Bachelet, the first Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, will deliver the keynote address. The Civil Courage Prize has been awarded annually since 2000 by The Train Foundation.

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro is one of Mexico's best known investigative journalists and a prominent women's rights activist. She is the founder of the Women's Assistance Center in Cancún, which provides free legal, psychological and medical services to women and child victims of domestic and sexual violence and trafficking, as Mexico is a top destination for sex trafficking from other countries in the region.

Following the 2005 publication of her book, The Demons of Eden, in which she implicated a number of influential businessmen and politicians in a child pornography network, she was wrongfully arrested, detained and ill treated before being subjected to a yearlong criminal defamation trial. She was cleared of all charges but continues to be a target of harassment and threats to her life for her continued work on behalf of abused women and children.

Many have suggested that she leave Mexico as a safety precaution. She has replied, "I am not going away. I am not going anywhere other than forward, to shed light on everything. Those, the corrupt, the evil are in reality very few. We men and women, on the other hand, keep being the majority, and so I do not lose the hope that Mexico can change."

A Sorbonne graduate and linguist, Cacho is the author of seven books, most recently Slaves of Power: A Journey to the Heart of World Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls (2010). Currently a columnist for the Mexico City newspaper, El Universal, she has spoken about how many lesser known journalists feed her information that they are too afraid to publish under their own names.

Triveni Acharya is President of the Rescue Foundation, an organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and repatriation of women and children who have been victims of kidnapping and sex trafficking. The victims, who are from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, are sold into forced prostitution in India.

Human trafficking in India is an immense problem. India's Central Bureau of Investigation estimated in 2009 that there were approximately three million prostitutes, of which about 40% were children. In addition to sex slavery, other forms of trafficking include forced labor and forced marriage. Some trafficking victims are lured by the hopes of well-paying jobs, while others are sold by their families or abducted.

Each year, with the cooperation of local police, the Rescue Foundation is responsible for the release of between 300 and 400 girls from forced prostitution. Approximately 20% of the girls are HIV positive. Most have other serious sexually transmitted diseases and infections. In addition to physical and psychological trauma, rescued girls are subjected to intense social stigmatization and problems of citizenship. The Rescue Foundation offers protective homes and rehabilitation services in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune.

Liberating women from brothels is especially difficult because it can represent a loss of up to $45,000 to the brothel keeper. Rescue Foundation raids have resulted in the arrest of brothel keepers as well as human traffickers. For these reasons, Acharya is subjected to frequent personal threats in her work. "Somebody must do justice to the unfortunate victims," she says. "If I am killed, that will be God's wish."

Having begun her career as a journalist in Mumbai, Acharya assumed the helm of the Rescue Foundation after the death of her husband, the groupís founder, in 2005.

Michelle Bachelet, the first Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, will deliver the keynote address at the Civil Courage Prize ceremony. Under her leadership, UN Women leads, supports and coordinates the United Nationís work on gender equality and the empowerment of women at the global, regional and country levels. She has frequently spoken out about the need to combat sex trafficking among women and children. Bachelet was the first woman to become President of Chile.

The 2011 Civil Courage Prize Award Ceremony will be held at the Harold Pratt House, 58 E. 68th St. in New York City, on October 19 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. To attend the event as a member of the media, please contact Barbara Becker 917-727-1094.

 

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2011 Honorees
   press release
   Lydia Cacho Ribeiro
   Triveni Acharya
Keynote remarks from Michelle Bachelet

 

© Civil Courage Prize 2011