Kanwal Toor Gill was the driving force behind the Collective for Women and Children’s (CWC) Gala fundraising evening at the Kensington Hilton last week. 150 of London’s most prominent and best dressed British Indians gathered to enjoy the company, auction and dinner. However, the star attraction was Toor Gill’s friend of twenty years, Punjabi Sufi musician Jasbir Jassi and his band who mesmerised his listeners. He opened the set singing a song highlighting that all people are equal and that all religions lead to One God. Jassi sang Sufi songs until everyone was entranced, to bring back reality he broke into Bollywood popular music which instantly invited one dancing queen onto the dance floor, soon every woman in the room was revelling in dancing. Later, he generously allowed his company to be auctioned for an evening.
Although the evening was tremendous fun, the serious element was not suppressed. Suhel Seth, entrepreneur and columnist, gave a talk wishing for a “Give List” as opposed to a “Rich List” to demonstrate how success and philanthropy could support India’s most vulnerable in brothels and the victims of the sex trade.
Toor Gill set up CWC in July 2015 and has energetically promoted her cause to benefit suffering women who are victims of sex exploitation and human trafficking in Mumbai, also to reduce and ultimately abolish the violence experienced by some women from India or Pakistan who either move to, or marry in, the UK. 66%, that is 3 million out of the estimated 4.5 million, of the women and children that are sexually exploited around the world are thought to be living in India. Toor Gill has partnered with has partnered with Apne Aap Women’s Collective in Kamathipur to disseminate her fundraising efforts.
Although the evening was tremendous fun, the serious element was not suppressed. Suhel Seth, entrepreneur and columnist, gave a talk wishing for a “Give List” as opposed to a “Rich List” to demonstrate how success and philanthropy could support India’s most vulnerable in brothels and the victims of the sex trade. Iqbal Latif, hotelier and philosopher, moved everyone almost to tears with his emotional speech about the contrast between the evening revelries and the children who were being denied a childhood, an education and a future without fear. Business, political persons and sponsors combined to support the cause and raised a profit of £4,000 which is to be congratulated after only three months of launching CWC.
Kanwall Toor is a psychology student from Delhi University, a few fun pageants led to her being nominated in Tokyo as Femina’s Miss India International in 2001, a former television anchor and Bollywood actress who starred with Amitabh Bachchan in Cheeni Kum; she married in 2006 and subsequently moved to England. Ever beautiful, vibrant and personable she wanted to engage with both India and UK, tentative attempts to offer her support to Macmillan Cancer Trust and the Southall Black Sisters fell on thin ears. Not disheartened she followed the advice of her supportive husband who encouraged her saying “Starting a charity is not rocket science” and CWC was founded.