Pune: A recent analysis by CRY revealed that the crimes against minors in India have soared 500 per cent over the past 10 years. More than 50 per cent of crimes against children have been recorded in just five states: Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and West Bengal.
As of today, Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) affects about 53 per cent of the population in India, which is why addressing the problem is the need of the hour. This issue should not be limited to government and NGOs, rather safety begins at home and everyone should and can do something to keep children safe. Bola, a Pune-based initiative started by survivors of CSA, in collaboration with Arpan - Towards Freedom from Child Sexual Abuse, had organised a two-day certificate workshop on ‘Understanding Child Sexual Abuse and Personal Safety’ at St. Mira’s College on June 30 and July 1.
The workshop was aimed at building capacities of teachers, NGOs and individuals towards Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in Pune. The workshop was conducted by Shubhangi Shinde of Arpan. As more incidents like Unnao and Kathua rape cases are happening, it has become extremely vital to discuss CSA which is prevalent to such an extent, that it almost become normal in our society. Still, only a small number of incidents are reported due to the general taboo around sex in India, and also the guilt and shame this occurrence leaves behind.
CSA has emerged as one of the leading causes of mental health issues among people. Speaking on the issue, Foram Mehta of Bola, said, “CSA is a pandemic in the country. “Every second person is a survivor or living with a dark ugly secret of having being abused by someone close to them. It is very important to work on this issue, because it leaves a long-term effect mentally (depression, OCD, suicidal thoughts) and physically (obesity, bulimia), and if not addressed at the right time, those patterns can actually carry forward.”
This awareness is equally significant for children so that they can protect themselves in case a situation like this occurs. “Awareness in children is important before and after the incidence, for it to get reported the soonest possible and also that the affected kid finds the support systems at their home and school and can seek counselling to resolve some issues... even in their 20s.” Adding on how a parent can help, Rucha Satoor, also from Bola, said,
“If your child is disclosing something to you, the first thing is to believe the child completely. Secondly, the parent should demonstrate strength by not blaming or shaming the child as they are putting implicit trust in you and are sharing something very intimate. Sometimes, they may not even have the words to express what happened.”
“Also, parents should understand that the child was hesitant to come out in the open because it had a good reason, be it threats from the abuser, mental or physical injury. Most importantly, never attach any moral or religious value to it, saying things like ‘God has a bigger plan or how it will reflect on the family’s reputation,” she said, as it would further pressurise the child and could lead to worse effects.