Swadhar IDWC (Institute for Development of Women & Children)
by Apoorva Deshpande
Teaching women to become independent in spirit, in thought, in action and have full control over their lives
It was going to be my first visit to Budhwar Peth, Pune’s famous red-light area, and I was both nervous and excited. While safety concerns were making me a little nervous, I was excited at the prospect of finally visiting this oh-so-talked-about area.
The Pune-based NGO Swadhar IDWC (Institute for Development of Women & Children)’s Mohor initiative operates out of Budhwar Peth. Started in 1997, Mohor is a day care center, night school and shelter that Swadhar IDWC runs for children of commercial sex workers.
The story of Swadhar begins way back in 1980s. Mrs. Meenakshitai Apte, Professor and Head Of Department (HOD) in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), and Mrs. Mrinaltai Gore, a noted activist, were concerned about the lack of safety of women residing in Goregaon, a suburb of Mumbai. In this regard, they decided to meet the then Bombay Police Commissioner, Mr. Julio Ribeiro to put forward their ideas about how this situation could improve with the help of the police.
Mr. Ribeiro suggested that the two of them could start a centre to provide guidance, counselling and help to the aggrieved women. After the meeting, while returning home, the idea of starting Swadhar struck them.