Delhi: World Vision India (WVI), a humanitarian organization working for child protection, launched a nation-wide campaign to end child sexual abuse and exploitation by 2021, in New Delhi today. The campaign titled ‘It Takes Every Indian to End Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation’ was launched by Dr. Rinchen Chophel, Director General, SAIEVAC; Robin Hibu, IPS – Joint Commissioner, Delhi Police; Dr. Chiranjeeb Kakoty, Chair, NACG EVAC India, K.C George, Joint Director, National Institute of Public cooperation & Child Development and Cherian Thomas- National Director & CEO World Vision India.
Cherian Thomas, National Director, World Vision India said, ‘Despite one in every two Indian children are sexually abused, there continues to be a huge silence when it comes to child sexual abuse. The magnitude of sexual violence against children is unknown. This campaign will draw people from all walks of life to provide a safe environment for children’.
“Our service is dedicated to addressing issues of sexual abuse among women and children. With 98% of rapes being committed by people known to the children, I feel it is time that we all come under one banner and umbrella to focus our work around child protection. Civil society organizations like World Vision India which are present at the field, reach places where we can’t. It is also imperative families, work places, schools, churches, community leaders come together to prevent sexual abuse in children” – Mr. Robin Hibu, IPS – Joint Commissioner, Delhi Police.
Mr. K.C. George, Joint Director, National Institute of Public cooperation & Child Development was quoted saying, “Two crimes that are largely unnoticed and increasing day by day are cybercrime and sexual abuse of children. India needs to increase awareness among the public to curb violence against children”.
The launch included a panel discussion on ‘Ending Children Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in India’. The panelists included Dr. Chiranjeeb Kakoty, Chair, NACG EVAC India; Sarita Jadhav, UNESCO; Michelle Mendonca, Council to Secure Justice; Abhishek Pathak, senior program coordinator, ChildLine; Ms. Razia Ismail, Convener, IACR and Namrata Sinha, Program officer, Education, HCL. The panel members discussed the need for robust prevention of sexual abuse in children; increased research; coordination between state nodal officer in the police department and civil society organizations; including sexual abuse curriculum in medicine, law and the police; sensitization of judges and lawyers; and the popularization of child helpline.
To address the issue and break the silence around child abuse and exploitation World Vision India has created a holistic campaign to end violence against children. The campaign aims to impact 5 million children (0 – 18 years) in 200 districts and 7000 communities of 25 states and 1 Union Territory.
The campaign will encourage the public to address values and attitudes which condone sexual abuse and exploitation of children. World Vision India will also train parents on child protection, parenting and care at household level and within the community, facilitate school safety program, conduct comprehensive school safety measures for children, establish child protection policies and improve complaint mechanisms in schools. Sexual harassment awareness sessions will also be conducted at the anganwadi centres for adolescent girls.
The campaign will also focus on strengthening existing child protection programs through multi-stakeholder engagement efforts that will include working with the Integrated Child Protection Scheme and child protection units to strengthen the reporting, referral mechanisms and support programs for child protection incidents, organizing inter-agency child protection review to ensure co-operation and accountability, sensitize and train law enforcement agencies, teachers, doctors, Auxiliary nurse midwife, lawyers etc. to be sensitive with children and their families when faced with a case.. Training programs on POCSO Act, and legislations/policies on child protection will be conducted for uniform law enforcement agencies to respond effectively to child abuse incidents in their jurisdictions. Additionally, it will work to strengthen coalitions of community, faith-based and civil society organizations to advocate for the protection of children and improve referral systems.