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Break the silence on child sexual abuse

April is Child Sexual Abuse Awareness (CSAA) month. It is heartening to note that more individuals and non profit organisations are now putting the spotlight on what is a widespread but under-reported malaise. This paper carried a report yesterday on how at least 20 organisations are coming together mid-month to report findings, new trends and patterns in child sexual abuse.

There has been increasing awareness about this problem in recent years. We have books and even mainstream movies — Monsoon Wedding being one that springs to mind —throwing light on what is usually camouflaged or not acknowledged or spoken about. In fact, cover ups are the one big problem about this kind of abuse. From most reports, it is evident that the traumatised victim is hugely confused. His depression and frustration grow as adults simply refuse to believe him or do not take him seriously enough, as he is a child.

If the abuser is part of the family, which is often the case when it is CSA, then, there is an even more concerted effort to cover up to prevent any kind of shame or stigma in the family.

Today, a south Mumbai bookstore will also host the release of a book on Child Sexual Abuse where survivors are going to be present to interact with the audience.

A number of schools are hosting workshops and awareness sessions to mark this month.

More interface and interaction can only be a good thing for this oft-hidden problem. The more we talk about it, the more we acknowledge it. The more we debate about it, the more we understand and dissect its different forms. The more we bring it in the open, we chip away at the fear and shame that those affected struggle with.

With all this, indirectly, we are telling the child, we understand you, we empathise and sympathise, you have an avenue, you need not be afraid to speak up and most importantly, what happened is not your fault. More power to this awareness month.

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