Mumbai, Maharashtra: With the introduction of the Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) campaign in schools across Mumbai, the project has made a huge success since its inception in early 2011. The project team has been able to tap 86 schools and reach out to almost 50,000 children. While the project was piloted in Mumbai, the objective is to reach out to children in different cities who remain victims of CSA.
Imagine a child who is being abused, but doesn’t know how to describe it or understand what he/she is being subjected to. A vast majority of children never open up about sexual abuse, thinking it was their fault or realise only too late that what was happening to them was abuse.
53.2 % of children in India have experienced one or more forms of sexual abuse (Source: Ministry of Women and Child Development study, 2007). This makes India home to one of the largest populations of sexually abused children.
Most people tend to dismiss sexual abuse incidents as random occurrences, which are not necessarily indicative of the society at large. However, statistics seem to tell a different story. India has the dubious distinction of having the world’s largest number of sexually abused children; with a child below 16 years raped every 155th minute, a child below 10 every 13th hour and one in every 10 children sexually abused at any point of time. A study by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) also showed that 53 per cent of the interviewed children reported having faced some form of abuse and boys were as vulnerable to abuse as girls..
In the case of Child Sexual Abuse, prevention becomes the most important pillar, because if the case reaches the intervention stage where the child has been abused the damage is already done. The scars of abuse last a lifetime and affect other areas of the child’s life including relationships, professional life etc. The experience of abuse can lead to anxiety disorders, substance abuse and depression among others.
Though there are already a few programs targeting parents and schools in the CSA space, children, who are at the receiving end of abuse, are mostly ignored in preventive communication programs. CIF’s program aims to break the communication barrier about the issue between parents and children and encourages children to break the silence about a ‘touching problem’ and openly communicate on the subject with a trusted adult.
The CSA Awareness Program reaches out to children between the age group of 7-12 years i.e 2nd-6th standard. This age group has been targeted as various studies, including the 2007 report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), have found the 7-12 years age group to be most vulnerable to sexual abuse.
The CSA Awareness Program Delivery Model has been evolved keeping in mind a four pronged approach. The Model looks at engaging the Community, Parents, Children and Putting Support Structures in place.