One out of every two children in India experiences sexual abuse before the age of 18 in India, most often by the family members or people closely known to them. In a wake of coronavirus pandemic, when every individual is required to stay at home, it becomes important to make home a safe place for the children. Sakshi, a rights-based NGO, working towards preventing child sexual abuse has launched a digital campaign #MakeHomeASafeSpace amid COVID-19 that communicates the importance of accountable adult community, which is alert, informed and vigilant to secure their homes against potential abuse of children.
#MakeHomeASafeSpace is a part of #StopChildSexualAbuse initiative by The Rakshin Project of Sakshi, in partnership with the Directorate of NSS, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The Rakshin Project, a Youth-Led Movement, Pan-India, aims to address the Denial, Silence, Stigma, and Shame associated with gender violence with a focus on preventing child sexual abuse, by exercising the Constitutional Right to Equality guaranteed to every citizen of India.
#MakeHomeASafeSpace, a video and visual campaign, rolled out across all social media platforms, addresses the spike in child sexual abuse cases and the demand for child pornography during COVID-19 lockdown and offers a solution through Each Teach Two action line of The Rakshin Project.
According to a reliable reportage quoting ChildLine India (Ministry of Women and Child Development), within a period of 11 days of lockdown, over 3 lakh cases and 92000 SOS calls have been reported. In anticipation of such a breakdown, and in response to the changing environment requiring social distancing, Sakshi had adapted its offline education programme to an online model for the prevention of child sexual abuse and had begun to reach out to its students’ constituency through webinars in multiple states, and multiple cities.
#MakeHomeASafeSpace also talks about Sakshi’s fundraising initiative with Ketto, a popular crowdfunding platform.
Talking about the campaign, Smita Bharti, Executive Director, Sakshi, says,
“The idea of reaching out to youth between 18 to 22 years is really simple. Each student we are reaching and educating to be a preventer has a family. Each of these students is tasked with a simple action. Each teach Two. One older and one younger family member. If families acquire a comfort around the language to prevent child sexual abuse, and can have a conversation on what to watch out for, and how to call out the behaviour, without succumbing to the barriers of denial, silence, shame and stigma, half the battle is won, and in turn we have a young generation taking charge of creating a constitutionally enabled secure home space, free of child sexual abuse.”
The fund raised through the social media awareness campaigns will be deployed towards reaching out and educating students across the country, on how to become preventers of child sexual abuse. The funds will also be used for offering therapy and legal support to survivors.