The first of the three workshops for training volunteers in Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) awareness saw participation from 28 enthusiastic volunteers, from diverse walks of life. Students, teachers and parents attended the four day workshop, while 13 resource persons took them through various aspects of CSA. The CSA awareness workshop was conducted at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) International House, Mumbai Central from 12 th January to the 14 th January, culminating in a practical training session on 15 th January in two schools.
The principal objectives of the workshop was to equip all volunteers with an overview of CSA related issues ( knowledge) and to provide them with skills training in communication to prepare them for taking on the task of sensitising children in schools.
The workshop started with the traditional lighting of the lamp, Vidya Apte from the Forum Against Child Sexual Exploitation (FACSE), the two youngest volunteers, Anuja Mohare and Charmi Khimshia and the oldest volunteer, Roshni Bharucha did the honours.
The first session on 'Child Protection and Child Rights (CPCR)' was conducted by Nishit Kumar, Head- Communication and Strategic Initiatives, CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF). Starting with a test on 'Rights in India'; Kumar took the participants through the rights given to the Citizens of India by the Constitution, and those specific to children, while introducing them to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Dr. Asha Bajpai, Faculty Member, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) session on laws, proved to be an eye opener for the volunteers, when the fact that there is no Law specific to CSA available in India. Various laws that are currently used to cover CSA cases were discussed in detail. For clarity on the penalties awarded for cases of CSA, Dr. Bajpai used examples of the Freddy Peats case in Goa , the Swiss couple's case and the Prem Sagar case in Mumbai.
Jaya Aiyappa, a counselor and sex educator who conducted the 'Child Psychology' session, while agreeing with Dr. Mehta's care and compassion approach added, "It's crucial for parents and teachers to always 'be there' for children, believe in them and use non threatening mediums such as play therapy to help the child heal." Discussing how the impact of CSA differs on the basis of the severity, identity, duration and the age at which abuse takes place, Aiyappa also helped volunteers understand a child's feelings of guilt, shame, betrayal, powerlessness and helplessness.
Dr. Duru Shah, Chairman, Indian College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, started her session with throwing light on the 'Indicators of CSA', which she grouped into Sure indicators, Probable indicators and Near indicators. She presented two of the (FOGSI) slideshows on 'Growing up' that discussed various aspects of the female anatomy. In response to a volunteer's question about hysterectomy for mentally challenged girls, Dr. Shah responded that, hysterectomy is the last resort. There are various other solutions that we can use, before using that extreme.
Sheela Sail, Deputy Commissioner of Police-Enforcement, Mumbai Police was next and managed to put all the volunteers at ease immediately by sharing her personal number. Making details like filing a First Information Report (FIR), medical examinations and submission of charge sheets seem interesting; Sail also took the volunteers through the concurrent action the police force takes once an FIR has been filed by persons familiar with the case.
Mrs. Lata Nair, Vice Chairperson of the Parent Teacher Association United Forum (PTA United Forum) conducted the next important session for the field, while throwing light on 'The logistics of conducting a CSA session in schools.' Emphasising on a positive attitude and negotiation skills, Nair said these are the qualities that would help volunteers overcome any objections by parents and school authorities
The communication skills session conducted by Theatre Specialist, Manjul Bharadwaj and the wrap up session conducted by Trishla Jasani, Consultant Program Co-ordinator and Sneha Kupekar, Assistant Program Co-ordinator helped volunteers overcome their anxieties about the practical training session on 15 th January at the Sir J. J Boys' and Girls' High school. Bharadwaj urged the volunteers to keep in mind, a participatory approach, verbal and non- verbal communication and appreciation of the audience. His method of questioning all aspects and thoroughly involving all participants was deeply appreciated by all volunteers.