How many of us are aware of the child helpline 1098? Even if we are, how many of us remember it immediately? Did you know the number was founded by Jeroo Billimoria, a professor at the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai as an experimental project of the Department of Family and Child Welfare in June 1996. It went on to become a nationwide emergency helpline for children in distress and has come a long way since then.
With the alarming rise in the incidence of child abuse cases with every passing minute, the sensitisation around this subject is still low. To address this issue, a group of creative minds from Bengaluru has taken it upon themselves to spread awareness on 1098.
The #ten98 campaign, with a noble aim to let the common public stay aware of 1098 along with other important emergency numbers (100, 108), has been started by one such group from Bengaluru. The campaign has so far released 13 of the 28 short films, all available on their YouTube channel since its launch on December 14. All the films, which are under one minute, focus on various forms of child abuse with a message in the end, and will be released till December 20. These snippets are also translated in Kannada, Tamil and Hindi.
The visuals of the films have a hard-hitting message urging the viewers to Dial 1098 and report the incident. The films, which are not graphic in nature, talk about the subject of child abuse, without showing the nature of abuse, the victim, or the abuser, in a subtle manner.
Below is the link to the first film "Murder of Innocence" released by the campaign.
#ten98 founder Ashok VA emphasised why it's crucial to make the environment safe for children.
"A general lack of awareness about the Child Helpline Number which has been around since 1996 but hardly in the public eye/consciousness is what led us to work on this campaign. The campaign was initiated to tackle multiple issues that the helpline number handles and in propagating the number so that the number is on top of the mind of the general public of India," says Ashok, who assembled this group together.
A senior film editor and a tech entrepreneur, Ashok has conceptualised as well as edited all the films released so far.
The group essentially has filmmakers, ad directors and those in radio and television as part of its core team.
However, it is through and through a citizens' initiative. The other contributors are a mix of software professionals, designers, teachers, writers, homemakers and socially responsible citizens who have all come on board to give their insights and perspectives to support this cause, says Arvind Iyer, a filmmaker
Balshankar Menon, a filmmaker, and part of the campaign's core team says, "If 1098 becomes a number that is as easily remembered as the 100 number (Police) or the 108 number (Ambulance) the campaign would be a success. Another crucial aim of the campaign is to have the Child Helpline number more visible on school buses, school campuses, public transport, taxis, trains and other public places."
Baskar VG, while accepting that the goals of this campaign cannot be achieved overnight, feels that it's still a step in the right direction meant for a larger cause. "The campaign would be a bigger success if more people talk about this and spread the word. It is crucial that the general public understands the importance of 1098. The more voices support the cause, the better it would be for #ten98," he said.
Asked if there are any other institutes involved in the campaign, Vishno Rao, an ad filmmaker says, "We are working on this campaign as a citizen initiative to propagate the child line number, but we don’t have anyone else involved in this campaign at the moment. We are of the opinion and belief that if citizens take up a cause and help raise awareness there’s plenty that can be done with the power of the
The campaign at the moment will spread its message only on digital platforms.