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 Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

CHILDLINE India Foundation » CIF Events » Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

Volunteers from Different Walks Of Life Unite for CSA Awareness

Sneha Kupekar, Communication and Strategic Initiatives (CSI) Department

Mumbai, January 15: The 1 st of the three workshops for training volunteers in Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) awareness saw participation from 28 enthusiastic volunteers, from diverse walks of life. Students, teachers and parents attended the four day workshop, while 13 resource persons took them through various aspects of CSA.

The CSA awareness workshop was conducted at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) International House, Mumbai Central from 12 th January to the 14 th January, culminating in a practical training session on 15 th January in two schools.

The principal objectives of the workshop was to equip all volunteers with an overview of CSA related issues ( knowledge) and to provide them with skills training in communication to prepare them for taking on the task of sensitising children in schools.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

The workshop started with the traditional lighting of the lamp, Vidya Apte from the Forum Against Child Sexual Exploitation (FACSE), the two youngest volunteers, Anuja Mohare and Charmi Khimshia and the oldest volunteer, Roshni Bharucha did the honours.

The first session on 'Child Protection and Child Rights (CPCR)' was conducted by Nishit Kumar, Head- Communication and Strategic Initiatives, CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF). Starting with a test on 'Rights in India'; Kumar took the participants through the rights given to the Citizens of India by the Constitution, and those specific to children, while introducing them to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

This was followed by an interactive session where Vidya Apte and Ketki Doshi, the two member team from FACSE gave the volunteers a thorough grounding in CSA; covering forms of CSA. With an interactive methodology of films and role plays, the volunteers were taken through important issues such as 'why children don't tell', what are the 'effects of sexual abuse on children' and identifying 'signs and indicators in children through behavioural changes'. When asked to sum up 'what can we do', a volunteer summed up, "We should believe the child, listen to him/her and ask questions. It's important to be sympathetic and supportive to the child."

Dr. Asha Bajpai, Faculty Member, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) session on laws, proved to be an eye opener for the volunteers, when the fact that there is no Law specific to CSA available in India. Various laws that are currently used to cover CSA cases were discussed in detail. For clarity on the penalties awarded for cases of CSA, Dr. Bajpai used examples of the Freddy Peats case in Goa , the Swiss couple's case and the Prem Sagar case in Mumbai.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

The last session on Day 1 was one that participants had been waiting for. Volunteers initially had only a vague idea on the '1098 service and how it works'. The session to provide clarity on the service was conducted by Kiran More, from the Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT). More took the participants through the processes that are put in place once a call is received on 1098, and also helped them understand the partner network of CHILDLINE consisting of collab and nodal partners.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

Continuing on Day 2 with the tone set by Dr. Bajpai's law sessions, Dr. Nilima Mehta, former Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) helped the volunteers gain a thorough understanding of the workings of this statutory body set up under the Juvenile Justice Act. Emphasising on the care, compassion and concern approach that the CWC adopts, Dr. Mehta stressed on the importance of the non negotiable principles of keeping the best interests of the child in mind, creating a child friendly environment and taking child centred decisions. She ended her session by asking volunteers to always remember 3 steps to child protection i.e. recognise, respond and rehabilitate.

Jaya Aiyappa, a counsellor and sex educator who conducted the 'Child Psychology' session, while agreeing with Dr. Mehta's care and compassion approach added, "It's crucial for parents and teachers to always 'be there' for children, believe in them and use non threatening mediums such as play therapy to help the child heal." Discussing how the impact of CSA differs on the basis of the severity, identity, duration and the age at which abuse takes place, Aiyappa also helped volunteers understand a child's feelings of guilt, shame, betrayal, powerlessness and helplessness.

An important session for volunteers to understand the difficulties they might face while talking to schools was Father Merwyn D'Souza, Principal of St. Paul's High School session on 'addressing concerns of schools'. Coming from a progressive school of thought, Father Merwyn said, "It's my personal opinion that there could be a committee to take care of any CSA cases that come up with parents and teachers also on the board." A volunteer, Sharona Galsurkar said, "It was a great session. However, I hope I come across such progressive Principal's when I actually go out in the field."

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

Dr. Duru Shah, Chairman, Indian College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, started her session with throwing light on the 'Indicators of CSA', which she grouped into Sure indicators, Probable indicators and Near indicators. She presented two of the (FOGSI) slideshows on 'Growing up' that discussed various aspects of the female anatomy. In response to a volunteer's question about hysterectomy for mentally challenged girls, Dr. Shah responded that, hysterectomy is the last resort. There are various other solutions that we can use, before using that extreme.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

Complementing Dr. Shah's session, Dr. Chhaya Prasad, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician, Govt. regional institute for the mentally handicapped, Chandigarh, took the participants through the gaps in the medical system, where though the law says a child is anyone below the age of 18 years, a child above 12 years is admitted to the pediatric ward exposing the child to the possibility of abuse. On being asked how to understand if there's a case of sexual abuse or not, she replied, "Always look for cases where they may be a High Index of Suspicion. For example, a child was brought to me who was burnt only from waist down. This should immediately make one suspicious because the only way this can happen is when the child has been made to stand in boiling water." Dr. Prasad also shared details of various tests that a doctor conducts during the medical exam of the victim, such as Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

Day 3 of the CSA awareness workshop started with arguably the most action packed session, with Trupti Panchal, TISS Faculty Member conducting the 'Dealing with CSA' session through the use of cases studies. The six case studies Panchal used ranged from exhibitionism to incestual rape. Through this exercise, she tried to outline how our response to a CSA case changes when strangers are involved and when someone known to us is involved.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

Sheela Sail, Deputy Commissioner of Police-Enforcement, Mumbai Police was next and managed to put all the volunteers at ease immediately by sharing her personal number. Making details like filing a First Information Report (FIR), medical examinations and submission of charge sheets seem interesting; Sail also took the volunteers through the concurrent action the police force takes once an FIR has been filed by persons familiar with the case.

Mrs. Lata Nair, Vice Chairperson of the Parent Teacher Association United Forum (PTA United Forum) conducted the next important session for the field, while throwing light on 'The logistics of conducting a CSA session in schools.' Emphasising on a positive attitude and negotiation skills, Nair said these are the qualities that would help volunteers overcome any objections by parents and school authorities

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

The communication skills session conducted by Theatre Specialist, Manjul Bharadwaj and the wrap up session conducted by Trishla Jasani, Consultant Program Co-ordinator and Sneha Kupekar, Assistant Program Co-ordinator helped volunteers overcome their anxieties about the practical training session on 15 th January at the Sir J. J Boys' and Girls' High school. Bharadwaj urged the volunteers to keep in mind, a participatory approach, verbal and non- verbal communication and appreciation of the audience. His method of questioning all aspects and thoroughly involving all participants was deeply appreciated by all volunteers.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) workshop

The practical session allowed participants to get a feel of what it's like to be in a classroom setting and conduct the story telling exercise. It also allowed the co-ordinators an opportunity to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the volunteers. At the end of the day, the group re assembled at the CIF office for discussion and an exchange of experiences. The four day workshop resulted in the training of 28 volunteers as 'Certified Trainers in CSA Awareness.'

For more information about the workshop click on the following links

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