Fighting against child sexual abuse

Socially relevant

Fighting against child sexual abuse

It is one of the best examples of how electronic media can be used to raise awareness against social evils.

One year back, a student of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) made a film on child sexual abuse. Today this film, titled Chuppi Todo (Break the silence) is being screened in schools, slums, colonies and public spaces etc. throughout the country. It now, has a whole campaign surrounding it and even municipal corporations in Delhi have proposed to screen it in their schools to spread the word. It has gained even more significance after the rape and assault of a 23-year old in the Capital.

Vijay Rai of Plan India – an NGO devoted to development of children, says, “Our organisation is supporting the diploma course in Child Rights at TISS whereby our experts give lectures there and the students intern with us. Last year we got a student Sanjay Singh, a former mediaperson, who was keen on making a film on the subject. While working in a slum here, the slum children themselves proposed to mime and help Sanjay make the film. That is how Chuppi Todo was born.”

A little boy is playing hide and seek with his friends when an ‘uncle’ proposes to hide him in his house and touches him inappropriately. In another story, a teenaged boy tells a younger boy in the colony to play ‘doctor doctor’ with him and abuses him. A counsellor then explains when a ‘touch’ is good, bad or confusing; and also how important it is for kids to report such cases to their parents. This film, played out in mime alone with no graphic or violent scenes, is for children.

Sanjay then went on to make another film for adults where doctors explain how they can detect signs of sexual abuse in kids, policemen explain the laws which deal with such offences and National Commission for Protection of Children Rights officials describe the help they offer in such incidents.

Vijay admits that they had problems in convincing schools to screen these films initially, but once they did, appreciation came flooding in. “The films were sensitive and informative and we followed them up with counselling sessions. Kids actually came and told us of instances when they were abused, action was taken, and teachers told us that they had never seen things in this light.”

Soon the films were screened at slums, colonies, restaurants, metro stations, teachers’ training schools, police stations and TV channels. Various NGOs approached them for copies and even Sri Lanka’s head of child rights protection committee lauded it. The government also came to support them and recently, the three municipal corporations of Delhi – NDMC, SDMC and EDMC have asked for screening and counselling sessions at their schools.

Vijay says, “We are extremely happy that the films are reaching far and wide and achieving their aim. As per government statistics, 53 per cent children report facing one or more forms of sexual abuse and boys are at more risk than girls. Through our efforts, if we can save even one child, we will know that the hardwork has been worthwhile.”

“Further,” he says, “We are planning to widen the campaign and include steps for protection of women as well. We are going to conduct a survey on unsafe spots in the city and submit the report to the government. With ill-minded people roaming around targeting vulnerable children and women, the more efforts we can put in, the better.”

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