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.

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