One of every two children (53.22%) in India is sexually abused, according to a 2007 study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. However, in a traditional discourse where talking about consensual sexuality is still taboo, sexual abuse of children finds no space and hence much goes unreported.
In 2005, a study was undertaken by Save the Children, an international NGO and Tulir – Center for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, which surveyed 2,211 school children in Chennai from varied backgrounds. Among its shocking findings was this - 48 percent of the boys and 39 percent of the girls they interviewed had been sexually abused, majorly by people known to them.
But not many children know what to do or how to react when they are in such an untoward situation. The 2005 study, in this context, talks about how when adults fail to protect children, they must themselves “through non-threatening and age-appropriate means, to participate in their own protection.”
In a novel initiative therefore, Tulir took to installing child-friendly posters and flyers at 289 Corporation-managed schools in Chennai. These colorful posters talk about simple things like good touch and bad touch as well as what children should do in as well in the aftermath of these situations.
They also spell out what child abuse is. Contrary to belief that only sexually or physically assaulting the child constitutes child abuse, the posters highlight how neglect and emotional abuse also qualify.
According to NCRB data, sexual crimes against children have increased even further with 13,766 cases of child rape registered in 2014, as compared to 12,363 in 2013.
While child sexual abuse has been condemned globally, a report by the Human Rights Watch says that “poor awareness, social stigma, and negligence have facilitated the continued perpetuation of such crimes”.
Tulir also has audiobooks and other material for parents, teachers and children. You can access it here.