This is a need-based project relating to the demand for basic Rights of children and young adolescent girls and boys in the geographic location of our work covers the areas ofTrilokpuri, Khichripuri, Kalyanpuri, Chilla Khadar, Dallupura, Mullah Colony, Shashi Garden, Kondli, Himmatpuri and related areas in the East District of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT Delhi).
Developing Safe Places for Children to express themselves and experience the world at leisure.
The issues are of grave concern and yet the government and its sundry ministries are not bothered at all because the victims are unable to voice or relate their experience – not because of ignorance but, because they are infants and children who do not even understand what transpired except that it was unending moments of horror and pain.
A network of deprivations and vulnerabilities – poverty, age, gender, caste, lack of safe spaces, lack of schools, lack of proper institutional care for children without functional families — create situations where children are sexually exploited.
It is important to separate the broader issue of child abuse from the specific one of child sexual abuse. Child abuse is emotional, mental, physical or sexual and encompasses a much wider gamut of actions. Child sexual abuse is that which targets sexuality and/or sexual organs, involves sexual gestures, words, pictures, actions.
While some psychologists argue that violators are ‘psychopathic’ or ‘dysfunctional’ in various ways, it is important to identify and engage with the many ways in which children become disempowered in our society so that they are seen as easy targets of sexual oppression.
it is important to recognise that the sexual exploitation of children is fundamentally about power. For instance, the case of a 15-year-old girl who was raped by a policeman in Mumbai shows clearly how both power and the lack of it collude to render children vulnerable. The victim is from a poor family and was to be ‘helped’ by the person who took her to the policeman for sexual exploitation. Her assaulter was not only male and adult, but also a policeman.
In the target area of our activity, sexual offences against children can and are committed in – marriage, trafficking, employment and, ina myriad of ways. Interaction with people in slums in urban centres for instance, reveals that many get their children married young to protect them from sexual abuse. Once a girl attains puberty she begins to be seen as sexually available. For some parents marriage is the only way to ensure that the girl is ‘unavailable’ to others for abuse.
Despite several articulate lawyers and activists being involved on behalf of children who were abused, the High Court viewed children as ‘unreliable witnesses’.
Children who have faced some amount of sexual abuse (around 53%) and children who report having been sexually assaulted are a mere 6% and in 50% cases the abuser was in a relationship of trust with the child.
The biggest challenge faced by SMMSSS is an attitude of denial and collective conspiracy of ‘absolute silence‘ shared by family members of the victim and talking to the victim is near impossibility.
The second part of the challenge is, of getting to the child and establishing confidence enough to get the child talking. When the child talks, besides the volume of misery expressed, the anguish, the lack of comprehension, it is very difficult to get to the bottom of her/his experiences.
The third part of the challenge is inadequacy on the part of the parents/teachers/counsellors to relate to the victim and inspire a certain level of hope and confidence in the child, to spare extra quality time with the child and get the child to talk.
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