Shweta Katti, who was born in a brothel at Kamathipura Red Light area of Mumbai, is now on her mission to be the part of University of New York, USA and that too on full scholarship from Government. She is dubbed as an icon for industrious women who have overcome hardships in their life with sheer effort and dedication. Shweta has got an study offer from Bard College Annandale, New York after clearing TOEFL Examination, with a full tuition scholarship worth $46,000.
Born in Poor Family, Shweta had to witness some of the worst hardships of life since childhood. For the first 17 years of her life, Shweta lived above a brothel building, and suffered an alcoholic and abusive stepfather. Poverty had forced her mother to move from her small village in Belgaum in Karnataka to Mumbai Brothel.
“At night I would hear the sex workers getting beaten up by their drunk husbands. No one respects you when you are in this profession. It is highly unsafe for women and young girls to live in a brothel,” Shweta says.
As a Child she was inspired by a Sex Worker called Radha. “When I was a kid, I used to while away time watching television. My mother used to scold me, but I hardly used to pay heed. It was Radha who told me that either I could study and get out of this place, or become a sex worker. I, of course, chose the former.”
She was an Intelligent Student since beginning and secured 71% marks in Class 10 Examinations. She completed her Senior Secondary Schooling from SNDT Women’s College, Mumbai.
Even her Step Father used to abuse her. “I was 12-years-old when my step father started sexually abusing me. I had no one to speak to. I was also abused by my brother-in-law. But I was scared to tell anyone, even my mother, because I knew that I would be blamed,” says Shweta.
Many people including her Father kept telling her how dark, ugly and dirty she looked. It was solely because of the confidence her mother gave her that she dared to continue studies.
An NGO called Kranti which works with children in red-light areas, came to help her. Kranti was collaborating with local NGO called Apne Aap when they met Shweta.
After her class 12 exams, Shweta travelled to Nepal and the tribal areas of Jharkhand for a year with Kranti, giving motivational talks to sex workers and their children. She also spoke at eight women’s conferences during this time.
She now lives in a shelter home in Kandivili Mumbai, with 11 other girls of Kranti and often visits her mother.
But her woes did not end here. Because of her background, getting a passport had become almost impossible for her. She had to run from pillar to post and even approach the DGP of Mumbai police to her passport done.
Now she plans to study psychology to help women who have been traumatized by conditions of sexual abuse. ” Sex workers and their children have serious mental problems, and I want to help them deal with their difficult lives”, says Shweta.
Shweta will be the first woman from Kamathipura who has overcome a lifetime of adversity to realize the dream of studying abroad. Shweta’s success will be an inspiration for literally millions of young women.” .