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

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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

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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.

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