We often hear about Child Sexual Abuse issues – but all such references appear merely as isolated incidents in the Newspaper. What’s worse is that no one seems to care about the long-term effects that it has on the victim. The decision-making bodies (the Government, the Judiciary and the Education system in particular) are apathetic to the issue and the icing on this sorry state of affairs is the lack of appropriate legal mechanism to tackle the issue. There is NO LAW that makes the sexual abuse of a child a legally punishable offense.
Elaan was founded in 2004 as part of an endeavor to encourage dialogue on the issues of child sexual abuse (CSA) and incest. It functioned as a youth group for 3 years before being registered as an NGO on June 7th 2007 under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act of 1961.
Elaan’s mission is to facilitate awareness, outreach and healing from Child Sexual Abuse. We do this by working with various target groups, creating customized awareness programmes to suit each age group and by consistently communicating with our network of therapists, peer counselors and lawyers to constantly further outreach. We use platforms such as the Internet, public meeting spaces, and cultural events and are trying to build a network of schools and colleges as part of our awareness and outreach programmes. Elaan believes in “Healing, Dealing and Surviving” and hope to contribute towards the following in the long run:
Þ A law against CSA in India
Þ The revival / introduction of sex education and personal safety in schools
Þ A nationwide network of impersonal, non-judgmental therapists
Þ A survivor support network [we already have one in Kolkata]
CSA, according to Elaan’s definition of the term, refers to:
the emotional manipulation of a minor [child below the age of consent, which in India, is 18] by an older person, with the purpose of attaining sexual gratification for the older person, through this unequal power balance of adult over child.
Many of us misconstrue the term “Child Sexual Abuse” by restricting the abuse to “sex” between an adult and child. Let us set the record straight with a few facts –
Myth: Child Sexual Abuse is about sex between an adult and child.
- Fact: Child Sexual Abuse is actually about the use of force and manipulation by an adult over a child, the end result of which is one or more sexually abusive acts NOT necessarily including rape. CSA is 90% about the unfair use of unequal power and 10% about the actual abuse. An important point here is that the sex acts are termed “abusive” because the child is below the age of consent. We therefore have an age disparity that results in the imbalance of power.
Myth: Child Sexual Abuse and Rape is the same thing
- Fact: That is incorrect. As mentioned, CSA is about unfair power and manipulation. Rape is a different subject altogether. The Elaan website [www.elaan.org] has considerable data on what constitutes CSA. CSA stops short of Rape, the pre-requisite for which is “penetration”. In the case of Rape there are laws in place; Section 375-6 and the controversial Article 377 (unnatural offenses), which we hope will soon be repealed.
Myth: Child Sexual Abuse occurs only with the girl child, and does not occur with boys.
- Fact: CSA occurs and impacts both genders equally, although we have noticed in recent years that the number of male survivors of sexual abuse is slightly more than the number of female survivors.
Myth: Sex offenders are male; women are not/cannot be sex offenders.
- Fact: Both genders are equally capable of sexually abusing children.
There are numerous myths that need to be cleared, and innumerable loose ends to tie, both legally as well as educationally. However, we can only function with the support of the general thinking public, and can do so much, beyond which we feel that it is the duty of parents, teachers and decision-making bodies to contribute to the movement against this heinous rape of childhood and unite against injustice, in favor of happy, healthy childhoods for our generation and for the future.
Readers: Please feel free to leave comments at the end of this post to let us know what you think of the issue.
Fellow bloggers: Please feel free to link to this post or use the information on this post to spread the word – if you feel strongly enough about the issue.
Friends: Help us spread the word in whichever way possible – It probably won’t take much effort on your part. But merely spreading awareness on a word-of-mouth basis can make a huge difference to the cause. Any ideas / suggestions towards tackling it are welcome. Thank for your support!
For further information, to join our support network, internship, donations, please contact: Cell: +91 98741 35992 or Landline: +91 33 2454 4564.