Sexual abuse: Bystanders' role in focus

To mark World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse (November 19),  Enfold Proactive Health Trust, Bangalore is organising a campaign titled ‘Role of the Bystander’ through the month of November.

Published: 06th November 2013 10:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th November 2013 10:11 AM   |  A+A-

To mark World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse (November 19),  Enfold Proactive Health Trust, Bangalore is organising a campaign titled ‘Role of the Bystander’ through the month of November. The Trust has been working with children and adults since 2002 in the area of prevention of child sexual abuse, sexuality and life skills education.

“Every November, we run an awareness campaign that looks to educate people about child sexual abuse. And every year, we’ve involved parents, teachers and children in these conversations. But what about bystanders? They could also play an important role in stopping sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces,” says Dr Sangeeta Saksena, co-founder, Enfold Trust.

According to Saksena, a bystander is any person who is present when an incident takes place, in a public place like a bus, a market, a restaurant, a park or in a private place like a school, a coaching centre or even a house. “These people can make a huge difference by intervening, diverting the attention of the perpetrator or calling others’ attention to the situation. Most people don’t get involved because they think it’s not their problem and that the situation could get dangerous if the perpetrator is carrying weapons. But in most cases, these incidents just involve a single person harassing women or children, taking advantage of the fact that no one’s going to step up,” says Saksena.

The month-long campaign invites people to send in their ideas about what they can do as bystanders to prevent abuse, through drawings, poems or slogans in the form of posters. Selected posters will be displayed at public spaces like Majestic market area, Russel Market, Forum Mall, Jayanagar 4th Block market, Avenue Road and Commercial Street. Apart from the poster competition, the Trust also invites volunteers to come forward on November 17, 18 and 19 to take to the streets and speak to people about child sexual abuse and pass around flyers about the importance of bystander action.

“I think it’s an important campaign. Most of the people in our country are simply not aware of the number of children that get abused and harassed daily. If each one of us could make a personal choice to help people, it would bring down the level of these crimes by a huge margin,” says Pooja Ravi, a content writer and a resident of Indiranagar.

You can send in your posters to the email id: role.of.the.bystander@enfoldindia.org or you can send in hard copies to Enfold Proactive Health Trust, 399, 2nd Floor, 18th Main, 6th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560091 by November 14.

Research Says

In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India, Prayas and UNICEF, reported that out of 12,447 children (hailing from all strata of society), 53 percent reported sexual abuse.

Out of 12,447 children, 21 percent reported severe sexual abuse.

Many reports (e.g.RAHI) prior to the recent report had indicated that child sexual abuse of girls was high in India.

Now it appears that incidence of sexual abuse of boys is also on the rise. 52 percent of boys and 47 percent of girls have reported sexual abuse of one form or the other in this study.

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