Anti-trafficking crusader bags Grinnell Prize

Shafiq R Rahman Khan

The man spearheading the movement against ‘bride trafficking’ rampant in Haryana and elsewhere has been chosen for the coveted Grinnell prize for the year 2019. Shafiq R Rahman Khan will be the first Indian to receive this award in recognition of his efforts to safeguard the rights of vulnerable women and children.

DH had highlighted the suffering and sorry tales of brides purchased from various states for bachelors in Jatland. Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize honours individuals who have demonstrated innovative leadership in various fields in effecting positive social change.

Shafiq Khan has been recognised for his contribution in minimising bride trafficking and trade where women are sold, often multiple times, into forced marriages. Khan’s NGO, Empower People, has been active in Haryana’s Muslim-dominated Mewat region, besides other parts of the country, where the problem of bride trafficking is widespread. The award carries a prize amount of $50,000 for the NGO and another $50,000 for his personal use.

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A native of Gaya in Bihar, 35-year-old Shafiq Khan told DH, “Seeing girl children being killed in the womb, seeing girls getting sold for less than Rs 100 and living lives of slaves was a reason for me to sharpen the focus on the issue of human trafficking and gender inequality.”

His NGO operates in many regions across North and East India, most notably in Haryana and Assam, supporting law enforcement agencies and families of trafficked women by locating and rescuing missing girls and women.

Led by the women who were victims of trafficking once, and supported by volunteers, the NGO and its communes provide trafficked women and their children education, resources and skills for self-reliance to empower them. Khan has led marches spanning over a dozen states and thousands of kilometres to create awareness and gain an understanding of ground realities.

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