As of May last year, a survey conducted in 26 states by World Vision India revealed that one in every two children is a victim of child sexual abuse in India. One in every five lives in the fear of being sexually abused.
Despite these alarming statistics, parents still hesitate to have a dialogue with their kids and therefore fail to recognise child abuse when it occurs.
In 2014, Kochi-based NGO Swaraksha came into existence to change that.
Anu Suraj co-founded Swaraksha with her husband. She is also the learning support coordinator of the NGO.
“Swaraksha is the brainchild of my husband, Suraj Sundararajan. Incidents of child sexual abuse shook parents’ confidence on safety so much that they felt helpless,” she tells The Better India. This was when the like-minded team behind Swaraksha decided to change the situation through education and awareness sessions.
The Swaraksha Charitable Trust began with several awareness sessions using PPTs, stories, demos, videos, among other mediums. “We also use interactive mediums like puppet shows or doll plays for kids. We are planning on introducing street plays, dance or mimes through which we can communicate with the children. There is also a legal professional who explains the case studies in the form of stories to empower the kids,” says Anu.
Anu says she faces a challenge when schools are hesitant in having this dialogue with their students.
They want to spread the campaign across Kerala, but there are expenses that need to be considered. Reaching out to the rural areas has also been a hurdle. So far, they have been pooling their money to meet the expenses. The team includes working women as well as mothers, and therefore organising campaigns every day is impossible.
However, despite the challenges, Swaraksha has managed to cover 6,000 students through its awareness programmes.
They also conduct separate sessions for parents.
“We interact with them on how they can teach personal safety to kids, and also emphasise the importance of keeping the communication going right from a very young age. To the teachers, ayahs and other faculty members in schools, we tell them how they can work proactively towards creating a better environment for students and how parents can be an active participant in that,” Anu tells TBI.
The Swaraksha team has also created their in-house production Maya, a short film directed by Deepak Ramachandran, which has done well at a film festival. If you want to know more about Swaraksha, you can visit their website here.