Children are the future of the world. How they are nurtured, educated and brought up will decide the future of our world. For their well-being, it is of utmost importance that they are given a safe and healthy environment to grow up. Unfortunately, almost every day we come across news of children being victims of sexual assault.
The government has taken cognisance of the grave situation and has introduced stricter punishment for child sex offenders. One aspect, which also needs immediate attention is making children, their parents and teachers aware of this social evil. Taking a step towards it, Muktha Foundation, an NGO based out of Bengaluru has launched a nationwide campaign ‘Bhayamukth Bharath’ to create awareness on prevention of child sexual abuse.
Muktha Foundation, a dedicated all-women team of mental health professionals work towards prevention of interpersonal abuse and promote mental health. The motto of the organisation is “For liberation between us and within us”. The main motive of the NGO is to engage in training, intervention, research, and advocacy pertaining to our core areas of focus.
This organisation is now on a mission to take awareness of child sexual abuse to all over the country. Bhayamukth Bharath campaign which started on January 1, will conclude on March 31 after travelling to 28 states capitals and three union territories. The motto of Bhayamukth Bharath is to make child safety a national priority. The team is led by Muktha Foundation Founder-Director Ashwini NV, along with four other members of the NGO- Sruthi Chaithanya, Annette Shaju, Nupura Byramudi and Supriya Chowdary. While speaking to The Logical Indian, Ashwini said, “Child sexual abuse is a glaring reality that poses a threat to the safety of our children today. ‘Prevention of child sexual abuse’ programmes are often portrayed to be only about ‘Good Touch-Bad Touch’ and ‘Stranger Danger’. But the topic is more nuanced than most think it is.”
The campaign aims at involving all the stakeholders, including the parents, teachers and management of schools they visit and not limit their campaign to just children. Among the plethora of topics which are being covered in the campaign, warning signs of child sexual abuse (CSA), myths pertaining to CSA, signs that someone could be an abuser and guidelines of response when a child is known to be sexually abused. Ashwini told The Logical Indian, “About 70% of the times, a child is sexually abused by an acquaintance. Also, a lot of times, a child might not even know that he/she is being sexually abused. Adding to that, just 2% of the sexually abused children complain about being abused. So, it is important for stakeholders like teachers and parents to always look out for signs.”
Not just schools, the team is also visiting several colleges, workplaces, NGOs, community radios, religious congregations and shelter homes, etc. Their activities are designed to suit participants cutting across age, state and background. Ashwini says that in the several places where their campaign has reached, children, teachers and parents alike have come forward with their doubts and apprehension. This is particularly encouraging, which goes on to show that it is helping in building a dialogue around the topic which is generally swept beneath the rug.
The Logical Indian take
This campaign comes at a time when the safety of our children is under question. Parents and teachers require dedicated training and awareness session like these to be fully equipped if at all such cases take place. Bhayamuktha Bharath is a great initiative in this direction. The Logical Indian hopes that this campaign creates awareness and also inspires dialogue around child sexual harassment and its prevention.