Every hour, four children suffer from child sexual abuse in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
But, when it comes to sex and sexuality, “we just want to brush it under the carpet,” shares Nusrat Khan Pahade. Determined to provide India’s children a safe and healthy environment, Nusrat founded Cactus Foundation.
The foundation works with parents, teachers, schools and other organisations to raise awareness around the issue and to educate children on an ‘unsafe’ touch and to shatter the unnecessary silence and blame that the children are forced to carry, and grow up with.
“Since the perpetrators are usually known to the families, the members will urge to bury the issue,” says Asif Iqbal, the principal of a school partnering with Cactus.
“If it’s a female child for example, the family worries about what the society will think, or whether people will look at her with the wrong intentions. But people should remember that it is not the child’s fault. It is the fault of the cruel wrongdoer,” he added.
Boys too are at an almost equal risk of being sexually abused. According to a report by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, 52-60% of children who were sexually abused were boys.
Cactus Foundation is ensuring that children are heard and such conversations not avoided. Only through education and awareness can the country be one step closer to keeping our children safe and healthy.
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If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.