Meet the Shweta Katti, the girl who grew up in a Mumbai brothel and went on to receive a full scholarship from New York’s Bard College. Katti is a reminder of no dream too big.
“I grew up in Mumbai’s largest red light district, Kamatipura. Education and a safe environment were a huge struggle for me growing up,” she writes of her journey.
The first girl from an Indian red-light area to study abroad, Shweta Katti faced many hardships through her childhood in order to pursue education. She was supported by her mother, a sex worker and a local NGO, who helped her continue her studies.
“When I was 16 years old, I was supported by the nonprofit, Kranti, to continue my education. My aim in life is to provide psychological support to other marginalised girls like me to also pursue education against all odds.”
Who is Shweta Katti?
- Shweta Katti hails from Kamathipura which is a neighbourhood in Mumbai and Asia’s most infamous red-light areas.
- Katti was the eldest of her three sisters and one brother and grew up with an abusive father which for the most part, Katti thought was her biological father. Her mother, on the other hand, made sure that Shweta attended schools and jolted her for complacency.
- Katti’s neighbour and a sex worker, Radha sat with her one day told her all about the world where she may end up if she didn’t study. Katti shared that this fact check was all that she needed to work harder. Later she completed her 12th grade from SNDT University in Mumbai.
- In 2012, Katti joined an NGO named Kranti founded by Robin Chaurasiya. Chaurasiya started volunteering in Mumbai after completing her MA in Gender Studies at the Central European University in Budapest. Her NGO aimed towards empowering girls from Mumbai’s red-light areas to become agents of social change.
- Katti earned a spot on Newsweek’s 25-Under-25 Women to Watch list in 2013 for her work for marginalised girls.