We’re sorry for not being regular here, the instantaneous-ness [is that even a word?] of Facebook has made us lazy!

Whoever is in California this weekend, please join us and support Drawing Hope International and a host of celebrities at a red carpet fundraiser [details follow]…. this non-profit is supporting Elaan’s fight for more stringent laws against CSA, and is also working with us to develop our campaign to reach out to 1 million people by 2017 !



For every one person who understands the need for age-appropriate personal safety information, there are ten people who chuck culterati/moralati darts at awareness agents.

For every 1 child who speaks out against abuse, there are millions worldwide who are not able to do so.

We need to wake up and smell the [bull]shit, literally. I don’t care about how harsh this sounds. India, to be specific, needs to quit with the hypocrisy about abuse not taking place in our “culture”. It does.

A law against child abuse will not help unless sex education is also implemented. If you don’t teach kids about the disease, how are you going to teach them about disease-prevention ?

Logic much ?

Just my thoughts at the end of the week.

Posted: Sunday , Dec 27, 2009 at 0351 hrs

The project was conceptualised, organised and led by Ishan Chatterjee, Namrata Sen, Arjun Daga and Harsh Dayama; all of whom had studied in prominent high schools in Kolkata before eventually heading to Singapore to complete their undergraduate degrees.

Pranaadhika Sinha Dev Burman, the founder president of Elaan (a child sex abuse forum) and Mrs Rekhi, Principal of Khalsa English High School, were also active members of the camp.

“Kolkata being the hometown for some of us, we have seen these children everyday that we have spent in this city. We know how the lack of education cripples them and prevents them from moving towards a better life. Studying in Singapore and getting exposed to world-class education has just made our zeal to help these underprivileged children further their prospects stronger. As students we would really love to give back to our own community, and carry forward this zeal of community service,” says Sen.


Issue 2, 2009
I Column

… on how sexual rights affect one personally, and how they are affirmed and/or violated in one’s local cultural setting.

hell house a survivor’s account of same sex abuse

I am a survivor of multiple child sexual abuse. Speaking about my survival has been an uphill climb for me. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t survived at all, the flashbacks take over and the past haunts like everything occurred just yesterday and not over a decade ago. However, with the help of friends and fellow survivors, my past and I have reached a relatively solid consensus over the frequency of panic attacks and sleeping disorders and have been leading a peaceful co-existence for a couple of years now.

While speaking with a journalist about the prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse in India, it occurred to me that women, while being seen as victims, were rarely perceived as being capable of meting out the same form of physical/ emotional/sexual abuse which they are portrayed as being recipients of. Slowly, my experience of being abused by a female friend when I was younger returned, and forced me to delve deeper into this uncharted territory of the female as a perpetrator of violence.

My parents separated when I was five years old, forcing a change of residence to my grandmother’s rambling old house. With time the house needed repairs and my mother and I moved in with friends at their house for three months till we were ready to move back. The friends had a daughter, Soniya, who was a little older than I, and rather prone to what we 13 year olds called ‘weird behaviour’. She would touch the girls in class and look at them suggestively, and for her to be called ‘lesbian’ was not uncommon. However, I didn’t succumb to the label drama and considered her to be a close friend. So it didn’t bother me that she and I were made to share a bedroom and a bathroom for those three months, not to mention going to school and sitting next to each other (she insisted). The abuse therefore, was a shock, and its roots continue to raise questions about my part in it, if at all.

It began at night, after a sumptuous home-cooked meal and a little television. I suffered from mild sleeping trouble, and it took me a while to get to sleep. Mummy always insisted that I get into bed at a respectable hour and lie down with my eyes closed till sleep overcame me. To Soniya however, I was the fastest sleeper around, she didn’t know I was awake. It started with her leg over mine, one arm across my chest. I chose to ignore that. It made heavy progress though, and every night became more and more awkward as I attempted to fathom exactly what was going on while her hands roamed all over my body.

The ‘AHA’ moment arrived when one night when I was reading a Sidney Sheldon novel (Tell Me Your Dreams) and reached the exact part where the central character realises that her father molested her. That night, Soniya attempted to divest me of my underwear and the puzzle pieces fit instantaneously. I feigned getting up to go to the bathroom and stayed there for the rest of the night, shaking with anger at the realisation of what was being done to me.

Being sexually-abused was not news to me, having been subjected to the trauma at the age of eight years by a caretaker in my father’s house. Being abused by a friend, another girl, was not only unbelievable but also an inescapable part of my stay in that house.

There was nobody I could speak with, least of all with my mother or hers, for obvious reason – nobody would believe me, and what proof did I have? Soniya did not physically hurt me, there were no bruises/cuts or any other marks to speak of. How could I prove that her hands were all over me, not to mention other parts of her? If I did disclose the abuse to the grown-ups, they would ask me why I hadn’t told them before. What would I say? That I was afraid that I had encouraged it by pretending to be asleep? If hell ever existed on Earth, I lived in the hub of it for those three months of my life.

Finally, the torture ended. We moved out of Hell House and into our own little space in my grandmother’s house. I felt relief, if only temporarily, but when a fish has been out of water for so long, even a droplet of water on its body will incite hope, and a desire to struggle. I was no different from the fish.

School became another struggle. Soniya had become accustomed to being with me 24/7, and demanded my attention at all times. From physical touching to meaningful glances, I felt like a pawn in a most dirty game.

I became labelled, like her. ‘Lesbian couple’, we were called, because of our so-called ‘closeness’. From being apathetic about labels, I became paranoid about them. Any hint of closeness to another girl, be it a friendly handshake or sharing a lunch box, and I would run away from the situation.

Hair. I felt that my hair and overall appearance had something to do with the abusive relationship I shared with Soniya. Ugly. I must become ugly to survive. Thus began a reaction to abuse which I need help with, till date.

Uglification became my defence. From a healthy weight to overweight, long hair to short, and friendly disposition to withdrawn, ‘Uglification’ of body and soul drove away friends who would otherwise have been around for me.

Suicide was another option. I cut myself regularly in the hope that one day I would hit an artery that would put an end to the pain and confusion I was feeling.

Ten years later.

Today I feel a lot better about myself and am thankful that the suicide option did not work out. Soniya and I are in touch. I confronted her about what she had put me through and she apologised to me for it. In terms of forgiveness I wouldn’t say I have forgiven her 100%, there’s still a little anger left that I need to work with. Soniya, by the way, is bisexual and I respect her for it.

On an episode of Salaam Zindagi on NDTV, I spoke about my abuse (same sex) for the first time and anticipated a lot of hate mail but instead, received messages of solidarity and empathy from both male and female survivors.

While I acknowledge that what I went through with a female who was also a minor cannot be technically-termed as being ‘child sexual abuse’ as it is more about exploratory sex and touching, the experience left me feeling victimised and left behind scars which are visible, although much lighter than before.

Same sex abuse follows the same definition as child sexual abuse – an unequal power of an adult or older person over a minor (child). In the context of my personal experience, my abuser was close to two years my senior and used her power over me.

Pranaadhika Sinha founded Elaan, an NGO dealing with Child Sexual Abuse and Incest awareness/support in 2007 after running it as a survivor support group for four years. She teaches Human Rights to school students and is currently writing a book on her experiences with sexual abuse awareness activism. Go to https://elaan.wordpress.com


ISSUES Two young citizens have taken steps to do something about the rampant issue of child sexual abuse. PAROMITA PAIN


Sexual crime forms a large percentage of Indian crime statistics. CSA or Child Sex Abuse is an integral part of these numbers. Anjali (III Year) and Kirthi (IV Year), students at the School of Excellence in Law, Chennai, started campaigning against CSA when they discovered Elaan, the Kolkata-based organisation working against child sex abuse. Founded in Kolkata by Pranaadhika Sinha, who overcame the trauma of CSA to found an organisation to help those subjected to it, Elaan recently inaugurated its branch in Chennai with Kirthi and Anjali as its representatives.

Personal endeavour

For both, joining Elaan was personal. “The magnitude of CSA in India and globally is disturbing. The number of people working against it in India is certainly not adequate. A lot of work still has to be done to create awareness, provide counselling and rehabilitation for victims besides campaigning for stronger laws. Many of my friends have been sexually abused as children; so have I though the effects thankfully haven’t been devastating. I am convinced children in India are not safe. It doesn’t pay to just complain. I wanted to do something. Seeing how successful Elaan was in Kolkata, I decided to do my bit,” says Anjali.

Kirthi has always been interested in working with children, and furthering causes involving their rights. After a UNICEF-based internship in her first year, which proved to be a reality check regarding the state of children and young people globally, she immersed herself in research and came out with three papers devoted to the various issues plaguing them today.“There are many institutions devoted to the cause of street children but few working for CSA. When I found I could make a difference to some child, somewhere, I took it up,” she says.Elaan doesn’t yet have an office in Chennai. “We work at home or in any place conducive to our endeavours. We have a Facebook group, and an active e-mail helpline at elaan.chennai@gmail.com,” they say.

Starting out


Elaan Chennai was started with the Purple Angel Project, which sells handmade bookmarks made by volunteers bearing the Icon of hope: The Purple Angel. Purple is the colour for CSA, and the praying angel is a symbol of hope. Each bookmark is priced Rs. 5, and the funds go towards preparing pamphlets and awareness booklets for schools.Right now, they are working on a campaign relating to bring in stringent laws for Child Sexual Abuse. “We are looking at a research paper and a draft of all the provisions we want to see in the legislation, which we intend submitting to the legislature and the Ministry for Women and Child Development. Currently, India has no law punishing Child Sexual Abuse, apart from Sec. 375 of the IPC, which deals with rape,” they say.

Volunteers are always welcome. Elaan can be contacted at 044-42112310.

Posted On :28/05/2009
It is not easy for a woman to drag a man to the police station and get a complaint lodged for harassing her. What holds her back? And what pushes her forward?
A scene from 'Dahan'.
Dahan, a film by Rituparno Ghosh, dealt with molestation and its repercussions.

Try walking down the left pavement of Lower Circular Road any evening, taking the left turn from Camac Street, heading towards Park Circus, from where the street is hardly lit, and chances are that in five minutes a man walking past you will brush against you and keep walking at the same pace, or faster, never looking back, till the darkness blots him out.

Chances are that you will not do anything. Chances are that you will not even allow the matter to sink into your head, for you have a home to rush back to, and you can’t spend much time on an everyday nuisance. Chances are that you will keep walking at your pace, towards the shuttle car at Park Circus, only feeling slightly disturbed, slightly sullied.

One thing is sure: you are a woman who has to brave such things every day.

But Sreyashee Bhaduri, 30, chose to turn around. She was walking down Esplanade on a sleepy Sunday afternoon when a stranger made a lewd gesture at her. Hundreds of women in Kolkata must have been undergoing the same experience at that moment, but unlike those women, Sreyashee decided to act. She chased him down, caught hold of him and hauled him to the police station.

It may look like a small matter, as the offence against her does. Very few complaints against harassers are lodged. Kolkata police have recorded 211 cases of molestation in 2008. That may be the number of molestations occurring in front of Metro cinema alone in one hour.

Police encourage women to come forward. Jawed Shamim, the deputy commissioner of the detective department, urged women to lodge complaints with the police as soon as they face harassment.

But it takes a lot for a woman to get the man who is harassing her booked, much of the resistance coming from the police.

The check within

When this man, creeping up from behind, suddenly touches a body part, something in you whispers: “Let it pass”.

“From childhood a woman is mentally conditioned to ignore these ‘slight’ affronts to her dignity. It’s almost a defence mechanism that gets ingrained in every woman. And over the years as you are subjected to more such incidents, every day you get more and more desensitised,” says women’s rights activist Anchita Ghatak.

It’s almost like one’s relationship with alcohol. The more you drink, the more your capacity to hold your drink increases.

But don’t let it pass.

Try to prevent it. If the street is a jungle, the harassers are its predators, but don’t think of yourself the prey. Don’t look it either. Walk confidently. Be careful of anyone walking close, or coming towards you.

Do not lunge at your harasser without a thought.

“You don’t go charging if you’re alone and faced with a gang of five. I took the very bad decision of asking them their names and trying to take their picture as evidence, which completely backfired. I ran away and filed a complaint later,” says Pranaadhika Sinha, 23, the founder director of Elaan, an organisation that works against child sexual abuse.

Sometimes it may be enough to create a scene and embarrass the man.

Scream. Let people know.

People and police

The crowd, however, is not always to be trusted.

It will want to know what has happened. But it is often difficult to put into words what the harasser has done. It is difficult for a woman to name her body parts to a predominantly male crowd.

“Most people refuse to take street sexual harassment as a serious crime. It is something that is often taken for granted — something that is bound to happen,” says Saptarshi Chakraborty, a 22-year-old engineer and a core member of Blank Noise, a volunteer-based collective that deals with issues around street sexual harassment.

Some will laugh. Some will say: “If she has such a problem, why walk on a road?” Some will say: “Ki hoyechhe Didi, chhere din! (It’s a small thing; let him go!)”

Then you feel like giving up. You may even feel tempted to feel as the men in the crowd feel: that it doesn’t matter. But just remember your feeling of outrage once more.

As Sukanya Gupta, a coordinator at Swayam, an NGO that works to prevent violence against women and children, says: “Harassment of women is not just about rape or molestation. It can be a touch, lewd remarks or gestures, sexually coloured jokes, showing pornography, or leaving it at her desk…if it makes her feel uncomfortable, if it’s unwanted it’s harassment. More than the perpetrator’s intent it’s the woman’s feelings that matter.”

You can quit at any moment, but it’s better not to let him go. Letting him go is agreeing that women’s dignity is a trivial thing. Later, it gives you that horrible feeling.

The crowd did not help Sreyashee. On top of it, there was a group of policemen watching the scene, who just stared. “Madam is creating a scene for nothing,” said her harasser, who was drunk, and as Sreyashee was distracted momentarily, he ran.

She ran behind him, when she spotted a police sergeant, who, fortunately, chased the man and caught him.

Help at hand?

Traffic police, many feel, can be sympathetic. “I have spoken to the traffic and Metro police several times. I have always found them ready to help and mostly very kind,” says Sunaina Roy, core member Blank Noise.

Get their help. For you may not be able to run after your harasser to get him.

But be prepared that they may not help you. A woman in her 30s remembers lodging a complaint against a traffic police constable, who allowed her harasser to escape while insulting her for wearing “provocative” clothes.

Be prepared also for the man who muttered that ugly thing at you ear to vanish. “What can you do when someone feels you up in a bus and disappears? There is no proof!” says Pranaadhika.

But let’s assume that with the help of the friendly policeman, you have grabbed the harasser. You have reached the police station. Where begins another fight.

The police don’t usually take kindly to such cases. Often the woman is made to feel guilty for what has been done to her.

As Sreyashee waited at the police station with her harasser, policemen asked him, in an indulgent tone: “Ki re, ki korechhish? (What have you done?)” She was asked to write an application on a piece of paper and asked to produce its photocopy. When Shreyashee couldn’t find a photocopy shop, she was asked to produce a hand-written copy.

The police station might not provide you with any paper at all; you are supposed to bring your own paper. But the greater problem is convincing the police that a crime worth their attention has been committed.

Go armed with the knowledge of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 509 of the IPC states: “Whoever intending to insult the modesty of a woman utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound, shall be heard, or that such gesture, or object, shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon, the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend, to one year, or with fine, or with both.”

Section 294 speaks of obscene acts and language in public being punishable with imprisonment or fine or both. Section 354 also says assault or criminal force used on a woman to outrage her modesty is punishable.

The law could have been stronger, feel the police. “According to the IPC molestation is a bailable offence. If we arrest someone, he may get bail on the very next day from court. We recommended the government to make it a non-bailable offence, but it is not yet approved,” said an officer of detective department’s women’s grievance cell at Lalbazar police headquarters.

FIR fighting

But the policemen’s reaction to crimes against women could be stronger too. Law is after all on your side, but the officers in their chairs may not be. Especially if you want to lodge an FIR.

If you feel that strongly about the assault on you, lodge an FIR (first information report). By lodging an FIR you are putting the criminal justice mechanism into motion.

“We make it a point to not advise any specific course of action but recommend the possible options. But if however the victim was absolutely sure about wanting to get the offender booked then an FIR is the only way to go,” says an activist of Blank Noise.

An FIR is the complaint that is the first information police receive on the commission of a “cognisable offence”, hence first information report. At every police station an officer is designated as a Station House Officer whose job is to lodge FIRs.

But lodging the FIR may be very difficult, for many policemen think that it would mean unnecessary work over trivial things.

The police often cite many more important matters — murder, kidnap, burglary — as their priorities. It is true that all police stations have more than their capacity of crime, which keeps the personnel busy. But the police may also try to tell you that by wearing the clothes that you did or by being out late you invited the crime; what right do you have to complain, let alone lodge an FIR?

Insist on it. You have the right to lodge an FIR irrespective of the circumstances that surround the particular incident. An FIR may be given in writing or orally. You can also get a copy for yourself — free.

In the event that the station house officer refuses to lodge your FIR you can work your way up the hierarchy to the police commissioner’s office.

It is not necessary that you should name the person you are accusing. You may not know it. Try to give a good description. An FIR can be lodged against anyone, including public servants.

The long arm of law

Then wait for law to take its course. It may be very long. A woman in her 20s, who had lodged an FIR about a year ago, with two of her friends at Jadavpur police station, against two men who had followed them in a vehicle as they were returning home one night, struggles to remember what has happened since.

“We went to the courts twice possibly within a month of the incident. The first time we went the judge wasn’t present and a different date was assigned. There was an identification parade before the judge, where we had to point out the two men from a line-up of about 20 men, some of similar build, and tell the judge what had happened,” says the woman.

Since then she is waiting for news. Like Sreyashee.

Why should a woman bother then, if, after all this, it takes so long?

Perhaps for the one satisfaction that if she does get a man booked for harassing her, he will not try that with another woman for a long time.

Malini Banerjee and Priyanka Roy, The Telegraph Metro on Sunday


Posted On Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 07:33:14 PM

Child abuse happens to one of the most debilitating evils in society, crippling not only individuals but also the hopes for a better societal future. Elaan, an NGO, utilised the platform at the Calcutta International School on the occasion of their fest, Tiempo to undo the practices secrecy and covertness that shrouds our society that provoke abuse. The fest was organised by the Dramatics Club on December 13 and 14.
“Child abuse is a burning issue in India. We must crusade against this evil and find out new ways and means to work on it, which is why we chose a creative recourse to drive the point across. In the process, not only do the participants end up having fun, they also retain a part of the message being driven across,” said Pranaadhika Sinha, founder director, Elaan.
As the fest laid stress on creativity and innovation, Elaan used the recourse of various creative outlets to present their campaign. Through a poster exhibition, over 60 multilingual posters on child sexual abuse, child abuse, drugs and other youth-related issues. The momentous occasion was also apt to extend the ethos of the International Purple Ribbon Project to the students present. Teachers and students were encouraged to draw and sign in support for a law against child sexual abuse, as India does not have one yet. Tattoo artists Paul and Abhinandan from White Star Tattoos, volunteered for the day, assisting and supporting the organisation’s cause.
Awareness was deemed as the first step towards the alleviation of these evils and it was expressed that only when victims speak out against the perpetrators, can their be legal measures regarding the problem.


Dec 1st 2008

REACHING OUT Elaan, an NGO, is extending its hand to those whose childhood was marred by abuse just like its founder’s was. PAROMITA PAIN


CSA or child sex abuse is society’s darkest open secret. We know it happens and yet we shy away from it. Have you ever wondered what you would have done if it happened to you? Let’s hope its something like what Pranaadhika (22) in Kolkata did. She wowed that what she had to deal with should never be another young person’s lot and established Elaan, an NGO, to help victims of CSA. “I identify myself as a survivor of multiple child abuse, some of which is not necessarily sexual. Sometimes it takes a non-sexualised phase of abuse and neglect to erode your defence mechanisms and self-esteem. You perceive the actual sexual violation as punishment for being what you are: a worthless human being who didn’t finish her vegetables,” says Pranaadhika.

Born out of a nightmare
Elaan isn’t just testimony to this young woman’s courage. Itis a story of how the effects of abuse can be dealt with. overcome and instigate one to gain enough nerves to fight against sexual predators. “I knew it was strange the minute the abuse began. At age eight (when it first occurred), I felt strange hands on my body and instinct screamed danger. I knew that my trust, soul and, lastly, my body were being violated. It was difficult to deal with the reactions of people who I thought would support me. Many laughed and the so-called professionals were horrible. At some point my abuser appeared nicer than them, which was frightening,” she says.

Reflecting a journey of understanding and healing, Elaan is also the result of insight gained during her personal journey through the country’s legal system. “There are no laws which make CSA (Child Sexual Abuse) a crime punishable under the IPC. Research and conversations with close friends showed that they had been through some sort of abuse or knew of someone who had been abused. I was not responsible for what had happened. While most of the world has laws and support structures for survivors, India condones sexual abuse and incest,” she says.

Elaan was registered after three years of testing projects, re-assessing the need for CSA awareness and trying to heal personal scars. She isn’t alone in her quest and Elaan consists of two boards — voting and non-voting. Pujarini, Vijay, Rohit, Mirna, Ajoy Sinha, Bimbabati and many others form the team of crusaders. Kirtika Sinha, her mother, is the much-required ‘experienced elder’. Watching her counsel young people today, it’s hard to believe the things she has been through — “I cut myself routinely to appear as unattractive as possible. I developed bipolar disorder and tackled extreme phases of feeling unusually happy, and then plummeting into an emotional void. Relationships built painstakingly would crash, as people didn’t want to handle me.”

What is the toughest question a CSA victim has ever asked her? “One young boy asked me ‘Have you healed completely?’ That had me thinking for while as I tend to get absorbed in my work rather than in my own issues. After some introspection, I knew I was healing fine, but I can’t say I am 100 per cent healed. But I am not angry any more and I want to live as a happy person who makes other people happy. My response must have satisfied him because he became more positive in his own outlook,” she reflects. “I want fellow survivors to understand that it is both acceptable as well as cathartic to ‘vent’ emotion to the fullest instead trying to ‘make it nice’ for the public around.”

Today Elaan’s mission is to create awareness because aware knowledge will help society adopt an educated approach towards CSA. “We are trying to create an online database of our supporters, prospective volunteers and active participants. The information entered will not be shared with anyone. It helps us know that you’re with us,” says Pranadhikha. It may seem like a very small step but, trust Elaan, it’s an important one nevertheless. And after all said and done, “It was hard but I survived. I’m still here,” she grins.


Posted On Friday, August 29, 2008

Elaan, which means announcement in Urdu, was founded in 2004 as part of an endeavour to encourage dialogue on child sexual abuse (CSA) and incest. It functioned as a group for three years before being registered as an NGO on June 7, 2007. Founding member Pranaadhika Sinha said, “ There are no facilities in Kolkata to deal with child sexual abuse and incest although these are more prevalent than HIV. The victims, instead of being encouraged to speak out and fight for their rights are threatened into keeping quiet. I am a survivor of sexual abuse as a child, and dealing with these, as well as friends’ experiences, encouraged me to start this campaign.”

The group started off with a series of awareness campaigns and popular events to educate the populace about the dangers, prevalence as well as therapy for survivors. In the last year, Elaan organised a street theatre programme at Star Theatre on the occasion of World AID’s Day. Human Right’s Day was marked with a rock concert titled White Noise, and volunteers participated in the Purple Ribbon Campaign against violence, which marks the fight against child sexual abuse. “We don’t care what campaign strategy we use as long as the message reaches the target audience. Through diverse events, we have used the most unlikely means to educate citizens about this appalling crime.”
The most innovative and powerful part of Elaan’s setup is its support and intervention programme where they not only counsel victims but also directly intereact with the perpetrators. This brings us to the most important part of their campaign which is the legal angle. Elaan has an active legal cell which has been working over the years to formulate a law that could be used to nab perprators of CSA as well as incest. “Goa has a law to this effect which makes it possible for campaign groups to approach the polics for help. We are formulative a legislation which we plan to take to the High Court at Kolkata.” The petition will involve a series of dharna and protest measures in order to bring to light the plights of the silent victims of CSA and incest.
On March 22, 2008 Elaan invited students from Jadavpur University, Loreto College, St Xaviers College and numerous city NGOs to their office in an effort to consolidate the campaign against CSA. In April, 2008 they organised an interactive session with Swikriti where the topic under discussion was “Child Sexual Abuse – A Convenient Taboo?” These campaigns have been complemented by their recent involvement with schools and colleges across the city. Flagging off with a session at St Joseph’s School, Elaan spent the day with the students talking to them about what constitutes sexual abuse and provided conselling to those who chose to speak up.
“Considering the sensitive nature of the topic as well as the age group amongst which the discussion was held – 16 to 18 years – the support from the boys has been increadible,” said Sinha.
Elaan can be contacted at elaanspeak@yahoo.co.in as well their mobile helpline: 9874135992.


Kolkata, February 21

While the overflowing discotheques on Valentine’s eve may tell a different story, the youth of Kolkata are not just happy-go-lucky kids. A case in point is twenty-something Pranaadhika Sinha, who founded Elaan — an organisation which works to spread awareness about child sexual abuse and other forms of violence.

Sinha floated Elaan a year after she completed school in 2004, Elaan was registered as an NGO in 2007. It boasts of 15 board members and 20 to 40 volunteers — all aged between 18-35.

Similar is the story of Anindya Hazra (also in his twenties), who is associated with Pratyay, an organisation that deals with the issues of sexual minorities. Pratyay has been vocal about intolerance against gay, lesbian and transgender communities in the city. The organisation has been behind several gay marches and workshops designed to boost confidence of the sexual minority in the city.

Chinsurah resident Soumyajit Bhar, in his final year of college, has floated Dinga — an NGO that grapples with environment-related issues.

“At first, people thought we were amateurs and foolish. But after they saw our work, they began to trust us,” says Bhar. At present, the group is spreading awareness on issues related to plastic pollution in the city suburbs.

Internet helps “When I started Elaan, it was like a one-man show. Very few people were aware of the issues we were dealing with and even fewer were ready to talk about it,” says Sinha. The internet, agree Sinha and Hazra, is a great help for youth groups trying to spread awareness about different causes.

“Initially, we started networking through the internet,” adds Sinha. Then, it was word-of-mouth awareness that helped sensitise the youth. While Elaan boasts of a blog carrying regular updates about its work apart from discussions on relevant issues, Hazra has set up a popular community on Orkut that invites like-minded people to share their views. Hazra describes his community on Orkut as “about living outside a predetermined heterosexist box”.

Again, it is not always the internet which gets these youth groups to reach out and function. Take for example, Abhirup Dasgupta, Debrupjyoti Dasgupta or Rohan Mukherjee.

These teenagers are a part of a group called South Pointers who have taken up the work of teaching slum children.

Working under the name of Daibaddha, the core work for the organisation is usually done by a group of teenagers.

The youngsters get no financial help from any organisation but conduct a regular evening school for roughly 40 children four days a week. “We try to help them get back to their books. The families of these children, displaced from near the Tollygunge rail colony, are mostly unemployed. Sending the children to school is next to impossible,” says Dasgupta.

Daibaddha boasts of 30 members out of which at least 15 are actively involved.

Future plans
Unlike full-timers like Sinha or Hazra, it might become difficult for the likes of Dasgupta to carry on with the work after they move out of the city. “We have not thought about posterity but juniors from our school are motivated to continue the good work,” says Dasgupta.
Sinha has big plans for the coming days. “We are thinking of going in schools and colleges to spread awareness. We have also come up with a purple ribbon campaign which is designed as a protest against all forms of violence,” says Sinha.
Elaan has put its heads together to draw up a draft of demands crafted for a legal reprimand for child sexual abuse. A book is also on the way to sensitise people to the problems of abused children.


The Blog

Elaan is an NGO dealing with Child Sexual Abuse issues.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Incest are painful and unprovoked acts of violation. In India, where subjects relating to sex and personal safety are not discussed, the issue is shrouded in secrecy as the prevalence of abusive acts increases. The objective of this blog is to encourage reading, debate and constructive awareness implementation methods via the 'blogosphere.'

* Feel free to leave comments or SPEAK-OUT here!