“My mother has always supported in my endeavors. Without her, I would have never reached this far. At night I would hear the sex workers getting beaten up by their drunken 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 where spending childhood is very tough.”Shwetha Katti
The above quote says it all about how Shwetha Katti, a girl who was raised in a brothel in Kamathipura and the one who mustered the courage to face the world with dignity and pride.
When everyone is talking about Gangubai Kathiawadi, the lady who changed the face of Kamathipura with her strength and commitment, the story of Shwetha Katti is one that continues and will continue to inspire and encourage young girls to break all the societal barriers and move forward to a new beginning.
Coming back to Shwetha katti, her story is quite different and amazing. Shwetha was a lovechild of a devadasi who had an affair with a man whose wedding was already arranged to another lady. However, Shwetha’s mother wished to have a symbol of their love and that was how she was born.
Shwetha’s mother continued to work as a domestic help in a brothel in Kamathipura and Shwetha was often abused by stepfather and brother in law. She was well aware of the hard fact that actual world favoured the men more than women and the atrocities against women were not given serious importance.
After Shwetha’s mother met another man from Mumbai who was ready to give the mother and daughter a shelter, they were initially relieved. But little did they realize that her stepfather who had the surname Katti, was an abusive person who found joy in abusing and beating his wife and foster daughter.
It was Radhe, a sex worker from the brothel who gave her the right advice and the one who made her realize the way of the real world. She told Shwetha that if she did not study, she would be stuck in the brothel for her life and will have to work as a sex worker. This made her take life more seriously and she started focusing on the most important thing-education.
When the time came for her to shift schools, she chose a school that understood her as a person and also accepted her past with grace. She graduated her 12th from the SNDT college.
Shwetha Emerges As A Star
Shwetha does not like to attract attention by talking about her past, and she prefers to only communicate when she knows that no one is judging her. It was Robin Chaurasiya from the Kranti NGO that actually guided Shwetha to take on the world and her environment with courage and pride.
All these have led Shwetha to go to the US for her further studies and she wishes to major in psychology. She aims to be a counselor and wants to work towards the upliftment of the sex workers in India.
Shwetha Katti always thanks her mother for supporting her throughout her life’s journey and wants to give her mother a peaceful and a happy life.
After duly preparing for her TOEFL exams, Shwetha has now earned a full scholarship from the Bard College of New York. She also visits her family sometimes.
Let’s take a look at her achievements both small and big at a glance:
After growing up in Kamathipura, Mumbai, Shwetha went on to complete her education from Shreemathi Nathibai University.
She completed her internship with Sambaavnaa, where she educated herself about the social and political issues in the developing sector of India.
She also went about visiting NGO’s in Himachal to speak and create awareness about the issues girls face in the red light districts of the country.
Shwetha planned classes and taught at balwadi (a pre-school run for economically weaker sections of the society) twice a day for 45 children.
She also took the initiative to teach Maths and also mentored about 20 students between the age of 13 and 17 years, residing in Kamathipura- the largest Red Light area of Mumbai.
Shwetha still continues to volunteer and conduct workshops with the purpose of uplifting the rights of Tribal women in India.
A true firebrand by all means, Shwetha Katti sets the right example for every girl who wishes to feel determined and strong in their life’s journey.
“My aim in life is to provide psychological support to other marginalised girls like me to also pursue education against all odds,”