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Orkut.com was the first social networking site we joined as an organisation, in a bid to reach out to an internet-savvy target group. That was December 3rd 2006, a time when horrifying things [Nithari/Scarlett Keeling] were yet to shake the general public out of it’s denial of the existence of CSA in Indian society.The Elaan-Combat Child Sexual Abuse community had 100 members within 3 days of its creation.
Today we are 964 members strong and have successfully collaborated with the owner of another community “Bloggeratti” and have concluded a themed poetry writing contest with the theme being “Child Abuse”.
It is our pleasure to present the winner of the contest, Pali Tripathi =)
This is her winning entry titled “Bread.Pieces”
Spoon. Stained. Half
Table. Brown. Dirty
Door. Bell. Footsteps
Silence. Fear. Apprehension
Man. Thin. Tatters
Eyes. Cold. Piercing
Gazes. Afraid. Numb
Sound. Loud. Harsh
Child. Tears. Gurgle
Bread. Pieces. Gone
Faces. White. Wounded
Mouths. Pained. Dry
Door. Shut. Bang
Father. Drunk. Asleep
Mother. Deaf. Diseased
Children. Dumb. Broken
Life. Limp. Lost
Love. Desired. Denied.
Each drop trickling
From the white clouds
Each drop holds
Countless memories in its fold
As one goes down the next gets ready..
Glittering like a pearl
emerging with a blink
tears of blood
soon mingles with mud
swept away afar
Leaving indiscernable scar
How many children, INDIAN children at that, are aware that they have rights ?
Does the under-aged boy working at that tea-stall near your office know that child labour is illegal ? Does his employer know that ?
How old is the “young” looking domestic help who cleans your house and washes your dishes ? Does she go to school ?
How many of us have been witnesses to incidents of child abuse and haven’t done anything about it ?
You know, the young urchin who got beaten up for sitting outside a shop and “obstructing the view” of potential customers ?
Or the little girl who was slapped by a pedestrian for bumping into her pristine white sari ?
“These things happen”, you say.
Reverse the faces on these photographs. Place yourself in the lives of these children.
Life is harder for them than you would ever imagine humanly possible.
Child Sexual Abuse is a regular occurence with these children [*this is to say that they belong to a high vulnerability level*]. The picture below is self-explanatory.
Here are a few Articles from the Convention on the Rights of the Child , as adopted by young students in an American school:
Here’s a little background, courtesy UNICEF’s website
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.
For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;
(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.
3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
2. States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of the present article. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, States Parties shall in particular:
(a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment;
(b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment;
(c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.
How many rights do the children in the picture below have ?
The pictures represent the truth.
A truth that needs to be changed.
If i were asked to demarcate my life, id slice it into two neat little halves, like an apple. Both sides would look alike and taste the same but they sure as heck wouldn’t be the same anymore if you peeled the skin off.
Beneath the surface are two “me’s” ; the one before Barbados, and the one after.
Tori [Amos] and Shannon walked into my life virtually one afternoon while i was browsing through the then-new “world wide web”. I don’t quite recall how it happened, or what possessed me to visit this site, but i did. It changed my life forever.
www.welcometobarbados.org is the site that kept me stuck to my seat for an entire day, and the next too. People whom i didn’t know shared stories of rape, childhood sexual abuse, incest, date rape, gang rape, sodomy, college initiations gone wrong, and other experiences of violence too horrible to even think of, let alone endure.
I began to shake uncontrollably, tears spilled out of my eyes non-stop, and i reached for the shard of glass by my desk [i was a self-mutilator then, but have recovered since]. I stopped.
I dared to hope. I dared to think, that i, an insignificant, non-descript little girl from a city in India, could and would survive the trauma of sexual abuse and would fight the forces that prevented victims of sexual trauma from wriggling out of their societal cocoons.
Tori helped. Shannon helped. A friend from an online forum provided support for the times when i thought it was pointless.
I wouldn’t be where i am without them, and a few others.