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”

Bread. Pieces

Bread. Pieces. Stale 
Spoon. Stained. Half 
Plate. Broken.One 
Pan.Dry. Empty 
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.
A special mention for this poem, which was a late entry, but made an impact on us all the same.

Helpless Tears

Gentle shower
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
Leaving trails

Tears…
tears of blood
soon mingles with mud
swept away afar
Leaving indiscernable scar

Read the rest of this poem here..
ALL the poems tackled some aspect of Child Abuse and related abuse. Some contestants disclosed a personal experience while others empathized with the sadness, confusion, anger and helplessness of a young survivor of abuse. 
To be honest, it took us a few extra days to reach a conclusion ! 
We plan on releasing a little book of poems by the same community members as part of the performance arts based awareness campaign. 
Thank you Chris, and the Bloggeratti members ! 
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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 rightscivil, 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.

Article 1

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.

 

Article 6

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.

 

Article 19

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.

 

Article 28

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.

 

Article 32

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.

 

Article 33

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. 

These photographs and this post is a tribute to Tori and the super survivors. 101319541gwbhjs_fs1300px-maya_angelouoprahwinfrey

Title: Child Abusive Awareness
Headline: Most child abuse is committed by the person a child trusts

We are trying to create an online database of our supporters / members / prospective volunteers / active participants. Please take a few seconds to fill this up.. It will help us know that you’re with us.. and help YOU know whats happening with us!

Here’s the link:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?key=p_gLv557YI0N3qH6gtL8YKw

NOTE:
1. The information you enter will NOT be shared with anyone.
2. The contents of this spreadsheet are viewable ONLY by the administrator.

As part of it’s committment to combat CSA from all directions (literally), we are organizing a special interactive session with the support group for members of the  “Swikriti”with whom we have a long-standing association.
All details are provided below and all are welcome to attend and provide input or just listen.

Interactive session between Elaan and Swikriti on Saturday April 12th from 5:00 pm onwards at the Elaan office ; IB 150 Salt Lake Sector III, Calcutta 700 105
SUB : Sexuality and Sexual Abuse – A convenient taboo ?
As part of it’s campaign to involve all existing facets of society in the “Combat Child Sexual Abuse” awareness and intervention programme, Elaan invites members of Swikriti and of it’s own organization to an interactive session on the above.
The objective is to bring forward some of the common problems faced by organizations and activists in context with encouraging solidarity and awareness on the issues of sexual abuse and sexuality, which although different subjects, share a common tag of social ostracization and stigma between them.
Through this discussion we hope to establish common grounds for solution-based plans which may be used for future awareness events.
The total duration of the interactive session would be 90 minutes, inclusive of tea.

We would be appreciative if you could revert with the names and contact details of your friends and associates who will be attending by Wednesday April 9th. All queries may be directed to 98741 35992.

There are no entry fees for this session. All are welcome.

As usual, the folks at Elaan are grateful to all those who support the cause and help us.The Header Image you see on top has been designed by Arkoprovo Mukherjee, who is about to complete his Masters in Design (specializing in Visual Communication) from IIT – Mumbai. — Thanks Arko! 🙂

CLICK HERE to see more of Arko’s work with Photography online! — It rocks, you can safely take our word for it!

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On Saturday March 22nd, we opened our office and resource center to the general public for the first time. Amongst those invited were students from Jadavpur University, Loreto College, St.Xaviers College and numerous city NGO’s; all of whom came together to show solidarity for the fledgling organization that has only recently established it’s name in the field of child right’s activism and Child Sexual Abuse awareness through performing arts, intervention, counseling and interactive discussion.

The interactive session was facilitated by members Mirna Guha and Nayantara Mazumdar, both students of Elaan’s in-house peer counseling course, who deftly tackled questions on sexuality, gender, communication barriers between parents and their children, “coming out”,homosexuality and other topics that are otherwise considered “taboo” and not “media-friendly”. It was interesting to note that not one media person chose to support the occasion despite it being a noteworthy one and indeed, a “one-of-a-kind”, given the most recent tragedy ; that being the death of Scarlett Keeling.

Among the solutions that resulted from the session were the ones that involved speaking with parents and heads of organizations about personal safety, involving young children in self-awareness and self-esteem and speaking to both parent and child as a “team” to ensure clear and consistent communication between both, so as to ensure less stress for both.

Elaan ended the session by mentioning it’s tele-counseing details, and also it’s website address (www.elaan.org) and all pronounced themselves as being grateful for the openness and informality provided by an open space and tea-time atmosphere.

The organizers are grateful to Mr.Barun Roy for his invaluable assistance with the LCD Projector, and for his chipping in voluntarily with last-minute help. Mr. and Mrs. Sinha are also to be thanked for their patience with open gates, spilt tea and other things. A special hug to Minoti di for the tea and Blue the dog for being the best mascot we could have!

Recent news stories about sexual abuse of children in Alexandria and elsewhere should do more than make us disgusted and angry.
It should make us act.

Consider something that happened in Duluth about a year ago: A 70-year-old man was arrested for sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl who was being cared for at a child care business run by the man and his wife.
When an investigator asked the man, “Why a child?” The man replied, “Because it’s easy.”

Sadly, statistics indicate just how “easy” it is: More than 39,000 sexual assaults are estimated to be committed each year in Minnesota — the majority against children. One in four girls and one in six boys will have been abused by the age of 18. Some estimates put the number of childhood sexual abuse survivors in America at 39 million.

But there are things a community and families can do to make it harder for individuals to sexually abuse children. Ted Thompson, executive director of the National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children, offered this advice in a Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota newsletter:

• We can make prevention of childhood sexual abuse a public policy priority. We can call legislators and prosecutors to express outrage at abuse. It would greatly enhance our ability to expose offenders if we would eliminate statutes of limitations, both criminal and civil, for the sexual abuse of children.

• We can educate our communities. People need to know that sexual abuse of children by someone known to the child is exceedingly more likely to happen than the more high-profile, but rarer, stranger-abduction and rape.

• We can come forward and address abuse we know about or suspect. It is likely in most cases that someone knows abuse is happening and needs to have the courage to come forward. Because sexual abuse is often perpetrated by people we know, this can be difficult.

• We can improve our ability to educate families and professionals to prevent as well as recognize, report and respond to abuse. We need to provide model curriculum to prepare professionals to recognize abuse; and understand that factors such as substance abuse, poverty and unemployment can significantly contribute to the risk of children being sexually abused.

• Parents can communicate with their children every day. We can teach children that sexual advances from anyone, including other family members, are not OK, and also teach them how to conduct themselves in sexually appropriate ways with others.

I will NOT let ignorance take priority over healing and justice.

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!