Transcript for Chat with Chandni and Suchismita

Q : Could you tell us a bit about the work you do?

CP : I conduct workshops on sexuality education with adolescents, mostly in schools. As a part of this, I talk about child sexual abuse.

SB : I work with an NGO that works at three levels – awareness, rehabilitation & advocacy. On twitter, it’s @TheFoundation01

Q : C – do you think schools in India are aware enough? Are teachers trained to handle the issue of CSA?

CP : No, I think most schools grapple with not knowing how exactly to address the issue of CSA or deal with an abuse case. I only conduct workshops in schools that invite me but I’ve heard of schools refusing others who approach them.

Q : Thats a sad state. I’ve noticed that schools get very defensive even for minor issues. So it doesnt come as a surprise to me.

CP : It is. So, it becomes more important for parents to encourage schools to talk to their kids or invite a trainer.

SB : Schools today are becoming aware of the importance of talking about this issue but that’s a very small percentage. I’ve had school principals telling me the issue of CSA is very important but they fear about parents’ response.

Q : C, do you interact with parents/teachers in the wkshps u conduct?

CP : Usually, I only meet a couple of teachers and the school principal before my session. I don’t train the school staff. I write a letter to parents of the students I give a talk to & share a bit about the session, the feedback & some tips.

Q : S, how common is CSA in the children you work with?

SB : @TheFoundation01 hasn’t done too many workshops with kids directly yet, but statistics say more than 50% kids’ve been.

Q : Does Foundation help with the healing process in kids too? How do you handle it?

SB : Yes, @TheFoundation01 provides therapy to both child & adult survivors of CSA & guides them if they need legal help. Most of the clients who have come to us have been male so far! We also have a panel of psychologists who help us.

Q : C, when you conduct your workshops do you come across children with CSA experiences?

CP : At the end of many sessions, a few girls have come to talk about the inappropriate/abusive touch they’ve experienced. Last month, 5 Class 8 girls told me about their ‘chipkoo’ school music teacher and how he was touching a few kids. A teacher told me that the girls who were not selected by the music sir for an event were the ones who had complained!

Q : C, did this feedback go to the school authorities? Was action taken you think?

CP : I had 2 longish chats with the teachers. They said they’re more alert now. Also, that they found it hard to believe.

Q : I’m glad the girls were brave enough to tell u. Kudos to u for earning their trust. Thats tough isn’t it? to earn kids’ trust.

CP : Students are wonderful. They share easily, ask questions easily. It’s the adults who mess up in so many ways. Sad.

Q : C, isn’t this tendency to find it ‘hard to believe’ something schools should work on?

CP : Yes. And other things too. Most schools are unaware about CSA NGOs. School counsellors too feel ill-equipped to deal with reported cases.

Q : C, what do you advise these girls to do? For eg, tell their parents, etc

CP : If you’re worried/confused/scared by the way someone touches you or makes you feel, tell an adult you trust about it.

Q : How do you know if a child is telling the truth or not? Has there been any situation when you did not believe the child?

SB : A child rarely lies about sexual abuse. Only if s/he is coached by an adult to do so and that’s rare too.

Q : S, are people willing to get legal help in CSA cases? Isn’t there a tendency to brush things under the carpet?

SB : Very few people want legal help due to lack of an efficient legal system. We hope the new bill is passed this year.

Q : We had a survivor story where the person came to know that her mother had been abused as a child. she did not know whether to talk her mom about it. Any suggestions to help her?

SB : She should very sensitively sit and talk to her mother about it and suggest meeting a counsellor.

Q : Thank you S, how sensitised are our police and hospitals to dealing with CSA victims? What is required?

SB : Not sensitive at all. Doctors don’t know how to react and police are extremely insensitive. Awareness work needed. Thankfully, our founder @RahulBose1‘s support always helps @TheFoundation01 to take steps that’d have been difficult otherwise.

CP : Every individual has a role to play in ensuring that kids & older people do not get abused – sexually, physically, emotionally. Those on twitter can help CSA NGOs – @TheFoundation01, Arpan run by @poojataparia, @TulirAgainstCSA, etc. – become more active/effective on twitter.

Q : S, how does one approach @TheFoundation01 if one needs assistance?

SB : You can mail us at suchismita.thefoundation@gmail.com or call on 022-23521641,9870989834

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