Provide a neutral, child-friendly centre that facilitates a multidisciplinary approach to preventing and healing child sexual abuse
The Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) in Kochi is a partnership between Dil Se India and Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). The centre offers support and specialized assistance to children and teenagers who have been the victims of sexual abuse. This includes helping their families to cope. Our team consists of social workers, counselors, legal advisors and therapists. We work closely with local authorities such as the Child Welfare Committee and the Juvenile Justice Board, the police and medical professionals.
We strive to make everything we do as child-friendly as possible.
We are working with schools in the western Kochi area to implement a personal safety programme into the curriculum.
The steps are:
1. Introducing the theme of CSA to all school staff;
2. Training selected teachers on how to teach personal safety to children;
3. Providing ongoing support to teachers;
4. Monitoring and following up the programme with the school’s governors.
The goal is to
Help schools to implement a Child Protection Policy that can recognize whether a student has been abused and then provide that child with further assistance.
We are working with:
1. The local police, in order to raise their awareness about the issues faced by abused;
2. Women’s groups, in order to create awareness about CSA and how they can talk with their children about personal safety;
3. Public health nurses and ASHA workers, in order to create awareness about CSA and empower them to discuss it within the communities where they work.
The goal is to
Recognize CSA when it happens and support the child and their family, thus making communities safer for children.
Personal safety education is an ongoing process of teaching children that their body is special and that they have the right to feel safe and protected.
Children need to know the names of their private body parts and learn the personal safety rules. They should be able to identify and distinguish safe and unsafe touch as well as what to do if a person abuses or tries to abuse them.
Parents and teachers are the best people to impart personal safety education.
Finally, personal safety education has to be imparted in a manner appropriate to the child’s age.
I can say NO to keep myself safe
I can shout NO if someone touches me in an unsafe manner
I can GO away from any person who makes me feel unsafe
I can TELL somebody about it to get help and
keep TELLING until someone believes me and stops the abuse
Therapy for the child and the family is important because:
All therapy has to be empathetic and child focused; and it is the child who sets the pace of therapy
In therapy the child is allowed to revisit the trauma in a safe and protective environment, and thus is able to move towards healing.
The family (especially the mother) also needs counseling – to accept the reality of the abuse, and to deal with the consequences of the abuse; while simultaneously being there for the child.
Therapy is a long journey and involves using a variety of techniques.
Therapy for juvenile offenders is important because:
Therapy has to be empathetic, and the juvenile offender should be allowed to set the pace of therapy.
The goal of therapy is to help the juvenile to become a responsible and trustworthy member of society.
The family of a juvenile offender will also need therapy – to accept what has happened, to be able to deal with their own emotions, and to rebuild their lives.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) addresses sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age.
At the Child Advocacy Centre, HRLN gives free legal assistance to child victims of sexual violence during criminal proceedings from the span of reporting abuse, filing of FIR and throughout the entire trial stage. We thrive to ensure that the child is provided with effective legal support to help in their smooth transition from the time they report abuse till judgment. HRLN supports in giving assistance to CWC and victim families in getting compensation for the victims of child abuse also. Being part of the advocacy centre, we conduct legal training classes on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) and other child rights related laws to various stakeholders.