Ruchira Gupta is an Emmy winning journalist and founder of the anti sex trafficking NGO Apne Aap, that empowers women and girls to exit systems of prostitution. I Kick and I Fly is her debut fiction novel.
She has been awarded the French Ordre National du Mérite, the Clinton Global Citizen Award, and the UN NGO CSW Woman of Distinction, among other honors, for her contribution to the establishment of the UN Trafficking Fund for Survivors, the passage of the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act and her grassroots activism with Apne Aap. She also holds a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Smith College. She has co-written a book with Gloria Steinem, “As if Women Matter” and edited two anthologies, “River of Flesh” and “Renu’s letters to Birju Babu”.
Ruchira has worked for the United Nations in Nepal, Thailand, Kosovo, Iran, and the USA. She occasionally teaches at the New York University’s Center for Global Affairs as a visiting faculty.
Ruchira divides her time between New York and Forbesganj, her childhood home in the foothills of the Himalayas, where she furthers the work of Apne Aap and paints her mother’s garden.
For as long as I can remember, my father told me bedtime stories and so I wanted to be a storyteller just like him. I wanted to write stories about girls who fix problems. I was ten years old when the school magazine published my article titled - The Autobiography of a Pencil. I immediately resolved to become a journalist. I didn’t have much interest in going to college but the newspaper I wanted to work at in Kolkata refused to give me a job without a degree. So, I started going to college in the daytime and to work in the evenings. While on a work assignment in Nepal, I stumbled upon rows of villages with missing girls. I asked the villagers where all the girls were, and the answer changed my life. I found that little girls, as young as twelve years old, were smuggled across the border and sold to brothels in India. As a journalist, I had covered famine and conflict in the past, but I had never witnessed such intimate violence and on such a scale. I related the story of some of these women in a documentary called The Selling of Innocents, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. Still, I knew there was more work to do. So, I quit journalism and started an NGO, Apne Aap, inside the red-light areas of India and began to work with the United Nations all over the world. Slowly but surely, I became part of a global movement against sex-trafficking, striving to create a world wherein no human being is bought or sold.
I have won many awards and made many friends along the way, but I know that my work is far from finished. I wrote I Kick and I Fly in order to inspire young adults and share the movement them. I am certain that reading my book will achieve that. I am still happiest when I can curl up in a corner with a book or take a walk with my dog.