“Sexual abuse can occur to anyone irrespective of age, caste, socio-economic status…,” cautions Nandi Shah of Ashraya, an organisation that works to spread awareness about sexual abuse among children.
It organises workshops in schools and colleges where “the students first react with giggles which, I presume, is because they are embarrassed about the topic. But once they settle in, they can be really open and discuss the issue,” she recounts. At the end of the workshop, the students are encouraged to interact and ask questions and different modules are made use of for different age groups.
Ashraya has also organised a photo exhibition based on the subject of sexual abuse and will showcase them at different educational institutions. A film addressing the issue also features in Ashraya’s to-do list.
Speaking on sexual abuse, Nandi observes, “The abuser can be a person known and trusted by the victim. Usually when the abuser is a person within the family, the abuse is hidden due to social taboos or just never surfaces. One can look out for the victim’s physical warning signs like being withdrawn, depressed and not trusting adults. In an incident of child sexual abuse, addressing the child and the immediate family is what I feel is of utmost importance.”
How is effective is the legislation? “I personally feel that laws in the state are not favourable to the issue of child sexual abuse,” says Nandi.For more details, call Ashraya at 9382832875.MADHUMITHA SRINIVASAN