The Story of International Princess ™ Project
In India, over 2 million women and children work as prostitutes (1). Of the 200 girls and women who enter prostitution each day (3), 80% of them enter against their will and 35% are under the age of 18 (4). The women and children trapped in the sex trade are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty, illiteracy and disease that is seemingly inescapable.
In February of 2005, International Princess™ Project founder Shannon Keith went on a trip to India that opened her eyes to devastation of lives happening on the streets and in the brothels. After visiting a red-light district, she could not forget what she saw - young girls sold by their families, orphans picked up off the street by pimps, even young mothers just trying to feed their children. Many were held against their will. Others were trapped by economics. Those who escaped the brothels often returned just to survive.
Compelled by the magnitude of this reality, Shannon and her team of volunteers founded International Princess™ Project to advocate for these women, give them opportunities to restore their broken lives and empower them to live in freedom. The traditional Indian Sari, worn in even the darkest places in India, became the inspiration for International Princess™ Project. The sari’s bright color and beautiful design are fit for princesses.
Women who leave the brothels need occupational training and job opportunities to help them find dignity, self-worth and hope for a future outside of the red light districts. When women become a part of an International Princess Project sewing center, they take the first step toward supporting themselves in a dignified way.
PUNJAMMIES™, pajamas made from the beautiful Indian fabrics by women employed at sewing centers in India, are exported to the U.S and sold as a premium-brand of sleepwear. Proceeds from these sales go back to paying the ladies fair trade wages, money towards their living expenses, holistic support and restoration, funding towards their children’s schooling and operational support for the program. International Princess™ Project is committed to creating self-sustaining enterprises in India that provide opportunities for women formally enslaved in prostitution a place to heal from the past and find hope for the future.
(1) BBC Report on Number of Sex Workers in India
(2) (Robert I. Freidman, “India’s Shame: Sexual Slavery and Political Corruption Are Leading to An AIDS Catastrophe,” The Nation, 8 April 1996
(3) CEDPA and PRIDE, 1997
(4) Dr KK Mukherjee NGO report on prostitution