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CHILDLINE’s voice against Child Sexual Abuse

CHILDLINE 1098 Service » 1098 Events » CHILDLINE’s voice against Child Sexual Abuse

The last few months in India has brought to light several appalling incidences against children. It has revealed the horrifying reality that Child Sexual Abuse exists in our society in volumes greater than we could have ever imagined. The frequency of these crimes against children along with the brutality in committing them has raised a serious cause for concern. These instances have drawn widespread panic amongst the public, leading to a demand for a protected environment for children and justice to the victims.

CHILDLINE’s voice against Child Sexual Abuse

Every child has the right to protection and it is the collective responsibility of every citizen to provide a safe environment to children. To this effect, CHILDLINE India Foundation took the initiative to voice concerns against Child Sexual Abuse through candle light marches and public meetings. These efforts were carried out by involving stakeholders in child protection, allied systems like the police, and the aam janta across six states in North India - Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, NCT of Delhi and Uttarakhand.

CHILDLINE aimed to inculcate the opinion that protection of children and prevention of child abuse is the collective responsibility of a community with contributions from every individual. The initiatives were carried out to ensure that cases of CSA were reported to 1098 or any other responsible authority in addition to creating awareness on the POCSO (Protection of children from sexual offences) Act which requires appropriate procedures and protocols to be followed in reporting, recording and investigating CSA cases. Through this effort CHILDLINE aimed to draw attention to the fact that there should be fully functional response systems and mechanisms (SJPU, Children’s Court, CWC, Homes etc.) set up to deal with cases of CSA as per provisions in the existing legislations.

A Candle Light March

A candle march was organised across several districts of the states to express collective concerns against child abuse and demonstrate solidarity in an endeavour to address the issue.

CHILDLINE’s voice against Child Sexual Abuse

People from all walks of life including elected representatives, child protection authorities, governmental departments, voluntary organisations, students and the aam janta participated in the march. A sense of togetherness was achieved when all the participants took a pledge to ensure a safe, secure and protective environment for children and to report cases to CHILDLINE 1098 or the police. Various official figures partook in this initiative. The march in Gorakhpur was led by the Mayor of the city, Dr. Satya Pandey who assured that the Municipal Corporation shall take all measures towards child protection. In many places, social organisations extended support to CHILDLINE to organise these marches. For instance the marches in Ambala was organised in association with the District Youth Organisation.

CHILDLINEs in the respective districts also organised seminars, meetings and discussions with child protection systems, stakeholders, civil society organisations etc. The topic discussed was Child Sexual Abuse: Roles, Responsibilities for Prevention, Reporting and Intervention. The participants included elected representatives at the district and city level, senior official from district administration, CWCs, SJPUs, legal practitioners, media representatives, educational institutions, CHILDLINE, voluntary organisation, citizens’ forums and governmental departments and agencies.

While in Kanpur, Mr. Lalit Bishonoi, Member of Legislative Assembly, Uttar Pradesh emphasised on the importance of collective action to stop social evils such as child abuse, the Chairperson of the CWC, Mr. Alok Sharma said that “children should be provided an environment where they have no fear. This will enable them to oppose violence and abuse and also encourage them to speak against it and report it in case they face any form of abuse”. Nodal officer of the Anti Human Trafficking Unit of Udaipur who was invited as chief guest to the programme, said that “abuse and violence against children should be eliminated with collective efforts of civil society, family and child protection agencies”. In Alwar the stakeholder’s meeting was attended by senior official of the education department, social justice and empowerment department, labour department, and department of health and educational institutions. The speakers urged the participants to understand the importance of individual roles in child protection.

CHILDLINE’s voice against Child Sexual Abuse

It has become imperative to educate officials on how to deal with children who have been victims to abuse. Senior Child Psychologist from Meerut Medical College Dr. Sona Kaushal Bharti organized an orientation for Police officials to understand child psychology and handle cases of child sexual abuse with sensitivity. The meeting was attended by senior functionaries from CHILDLINE allied systems, senior police officials and medical practitioners from Government hospitals.

This campaign was the beginning of a nationwide movement to bring an end to the issue of CSA.