WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Because child protection is a collective responsibility.
The statistics on sex offences against children in India are grim. A 2007 report on Child Abuse by the Department of Women & Child Welfare purports that 53% of children suffer sexual assault. The true scope of this issue is understood as even larger. But the big picture remains vague due to a lack of accurate data. There is little clarity among citizens on how to prevent sexual offences against children & how to deal with the law. All this is set against a culture of silence and taboo around sexual offences against children and a rising graph of crimes.
In India, there are few individuals and non-governmental organizations working on the issue of sexual offences against children. Most focus on preventive aspects. Smaller NGOs and networks do not have access to updated information and networks to support their work. There is a need to strengthen child protection services especially for unprivileged communities, support victims and families through rehabilitation, facilitate network building and promote a culture of collaboration around this issue.
The Aarambh India Initiative fulfills these needs by creating a centralized platform that partners with and demonstrates innovative ground programs on child protection especially for the underprivileged, creates and shares knowledge with individuals and groups across India, and connects experts to various stakeholders to take the movement to a tipping point.
Aarambh India is a joint initiative that brings together over 30 years of on-ground child protection experiences of the Mumbai-based NGO Prerana and the international ‘Break the Silence’ campaign of the Hong Kong-based ADM Capital Foundation. We follow up and facilitate short-term and long-term rehabilitation of cases of child victims of sexual offences in 3 districts. We train various stakeholders in more than 6 specialized modules on child protection. We also conduct research and advocacy on the issue. In collaboration with UNICEF in Mumbai, we are working strengthening child protection services and systems of the Government. In 2014, we launched this website which is India’s first online resource portal on child sexual abuse and exploitation. It also hosts the first Internet hotline in India for reporting online child sexual abuse material.
Since 1986, Prerana works to end second- generation prostitution and to protect women and children from the threats of human trafficking. The organization does this by defending the rights and dignity of victims of commercial sexual exploitation and provides their children a safe environment, educational support and opportunities for growth. The organisation has led lead major advocacy efforts in the anti-human trafficking space. Prerana protects children vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking by innovation and globally acclaimed model of the Night Care Centre. On any given night, Prerana provides comprehensive direct services to over 300 children in four Night Care Centers located in Kamathipura, Khetwadi (Falkland Rd) and Turbhe (Vashi).
ADM Capital Foundation was established in 2006 to help organization in Asia achieve outstanding social and environmental impact. ADMCF aims to foster sustainable growth in local partners rather than simply back short-term projects. With the goal of achieving clear results, ADMCF provides an organisation not only with funding but also specific and relevant organizational support. The foundation has more than 21 partners working on issues of child protection, education, youth employment and environmental issues across 8 South East Asian Countries.
POSITIONS & DEFINITIONS
We consider any person below the age of 18 years to be a child in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
Child Sexual Abuse
In accordance with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, we consider any act of sexual violation against children, penetrative or non-penetrative, touch or non-touch, aggravated or non-aggravated in nature that could include sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, as Child Sexual Abuse. Abetment and attempt to commit an offence is also an offence.
Policy Regarding Offenders
Children are at the centre of our work at Aarambh. We have a non-negotiable position on justice delivery for victims. Justice delivery cannot be substituted by any form of non-judicial intervention that includes any form of therapy.
Collaboration is at the heart of our work. At Aarambh India we believe in building strong institutional partnerships to ensure maximum impact on the issue.
We collaborated with UNICEF since 2015 on a pilot project for creating child friendly systems in the city of Mumbai and Mumbai suburbs. As a part of this initiative we are strengthening Child Protection Services & Systems by working at two Child Welfare Committees and two Government hospitals in Mumbai city and also the Police, the District Child Protection Units (DCPUs) and local NGOs to ensure that child friendly procedures prescribed under the POCSO law are put in practice. We are working towards demonstration of child-centric mechanism for reporting and investigating cases of sexual offences which provides effective support, rehabilitation and justice to children and their families that could be replicated at a State and National level. Under the partnership we also lead advocacy groups in Mumbai by engaging with civil society organizations & citizens to understand challenges of implementing the law. The findings of this will be shared with the Government at the State & National levels.
In March 2017, the British Asian Trust started supporting the Aarambh India initiative with the aim of Strengthening the National Resource Centre on Prevention of Sexual Offences against Children. The partnership aims at helping relevant stakeholders across India working on prevention of Sexual Offences Against Children through resources, materials and access to regional resource centres. Under the project we are building regional resource centres in those areas of India where information on this issue is hard to come by. We build capacities of regional Stakeholders (NGOs, parents, teachers, police, child protection services who are connected to have access to resources, information & training on CSA in regional languages and are part of a country-wide network of Aarambh India. The British Asian Trust also supports the publishing of ‘The Catalog‘ which is the only fortnightly newsletter on this issue in India.
In 2016, we partnered with the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation to create India’s first reporting hotline for child sexual abuse imagery online. By utilizing the IWF’s Hotline facility, the Aarambh India initiative provides a full hotline service to Indian citizens. IWF receives, assesses and traces Indian reports, and takes appropriate action. Aarambh India will use the information provided to them by the IWF for advocacy and research pertaining to online child sexual abuse in India and in some cases, support the law enforcement in the process of investigation and prosecution. Under the partnership we have engaged with the internet industry, civil society organisations, Government agencies and Cyber Crime cells to device a comprehensive mechanism of prevention, reporting and elimination of online child sex abuse images.
Aarambh India has collaborated with Enfold to adapt and implement their Collaborative Child Response Unit model to 2 Government Hospital in Mumbai as part of the Child Friendly Systems in Mumbai project. As part of the Collaborative Child Response Units (CCRU), a hospital-based multidisciplinary approach to child abuse, Enfold train all the stakeholders- medical personnel, counselors, social workers, police personnel and lawyers – in managing cases and caring for children reporting sexual abuse.
Stairway Foundation based in the Philippines was established in 1990, to protect the most marginalized and endangered street children from abuse & exploitation. Stairway initiated the Break the Silence campaign against Child Sexual Abuse with a strong focus on training and sensitizing the Philippine National Police, Social Workers, Teachers, along with multiple non-government organizations (NGOs). Stairway started the Break the Silence Network to reach a greater number of organizations and cover a wider geographical area in terms of Child Protection. Starting out training only 8 partners back in 2008, the BTS Network anno 2015 counts 53 partners spread over 9 regions nationwide. Aarambh India is the network partner for the campaign in India.
- 1. Training & Workshops
We train and work with individuals who have a direct stake in child protection. Since 2012, we have trained more than 2000 individuals; which include parents (from underprivileged as well as well-to-do communities), teachers, journalists, police officers, District Child Protection Units, students of social work, NGOs etc. We train groups to deal with the issue of Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation in the larger context of child protection. Our current modules are:
- Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation: This module on how to prevent Child Sexual Abuse was adapted from the Internationally acclaimed ‘Break the Silence’ Campaign of the Philippine based Stairway Foundation. The campaign is currently operational in Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and India.
- Legal Module: This module can help you to use and implement the law on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 to protect children.
- Child Protection Policy for Organizations: This module helps organizations/schools/institutions to organically come up with their own in-house child protection policy best suited to their on-ground needs while still conforming to minimum standards of care & protection.
- Handling Disclosures of Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation: This module supports individuals and organizations on how to react, respond and report cases of sexual abuse & exploitation of children.
- Online Safety: An easy guide that can help you protect children of all ages from the threats of online sex abuse, bullying and harassment and empower you to guide them towards utilizing the power of the internet in a constructive and positive manner.
- Covering Cases of CSA: This module supports reporters on understanding ethical issues and basic dos & don’ts while reporting cases of CSA.
- 2. Creating Child Friendly Systems
For a child victim of sexual offences the first points of contact with the government systems are hospitals, Police or the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs). Most of the times, systems are not equipped with the necessary infrastructure, skills or human resources to provide a proper response to the children who are victims of sexual offences and need of care and protection.
In 2015, we partnered with UNICEF in a pilot initiative to create Child Friendly Systems in the city of Mumbai. As a part of this initiative we are working at two Child Welfare Committees and will be soon working in two Government hospitals in Mumbai city. We work closely with the Police, the District Child Protection Units (DCPUs) and local NGOs to ensure that child friendly procedures prescribed under the POCSO law are put in practice. We are working towards a child-centric mechanism for reporting and investigating cases of sexual offences which provides effective support, rehabilitation and justice to children and their families.
- 3. Care & Support
We intervene in specific cases of sexual offences against children by providing legal aid and services of a social worker to look into judicial processes, rehabilitation and psycho-social support for survivors. Since 2014, we have provided support in 20 cases of sexual offences against children. Comprehensive rehabilitation of child victims is at the heart of our case management program. We ensure that every child who is referred to us not only gets counselling support but also compensation, education and other services. We collaborate and support other organizations in case management through sharing of knowledge, resources and referrals.
- 4. Research
Our research unit focuses on key areas of child sexual abuse and exploitation. We are currently working on a State wide research for Maharashtra which evaluates the implementation of the law on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences and the challenges faced by various agencies that come in contact with the law.
- 5. Online Resource Centre
www.aarambhindia.org is India’s first online resource centre on Child Sexual Abuse. It is an attempt to create a comprehensive, interactive and up-to-date resource pool and directory. It encompasses everything from the fundamentals of Child Sexual Abuse to its various complexities. The online platform will help us reach out to the widest possible audience.
Since its launch in November 2014, 31 organisations across the world have registered on our safety network. More than 19,000 people have visited the web portal and accessedthe resources and information on child protection.
- 6. Advocacy
In May 2015, we launched ‘POCSO On The Ground’ as a part of our advocacy initiative. It is an interactive discussion series that brought to light the successes and challenges of working with the law. It provides a platform for voices from civil society groups that have worked closely with the health sector, police, courts, children and families. The on-ground evidence is used as basis for advocacy with the State and the Central Governments. Currently we facilitate three working groups in Mumbai comprising of experts and individuals who work in Child protection who examine the nuances of law and draft recommendations for amendments in the law.
- 7. National Hotline for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse Imagery
In May 2016, in partnership with Internet Watch Foundation we launched India’s 1st reporting button for child sexual abuse images and videos on the Internet. The reporting button enables citizens of India to report child sexual abuse images and videos in a safe and anonymous environment. If the content is found to be illegal it will be blocked and taken down irrespective of where it is being hosted. The hotline also works with law enforcement on certain cases. National Hotline for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse Imagery works closely with government, police and internet industry in India.
- 8. Mumbai Children’s Safety Network
Initiated in 2013, Mumbai Children’s Safety Network (MSCN) was a response to NGOs seeking clear understanding and direction on prevention and case management in slum communities. Today we lead MCSN in collaboration with FACSE (Forum Against Child Sexual Abuse) and support 5 NGOs working in Mumbai slums.
The program strengthens the knowledge of NGO and community leaders to better prevent, respond and protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The pilot program is being implemented across communities where trained young leaders are working with mothers, children, local groups, hospitals and police.
Director Aarambh & Co-Founder Prerana
Priti is a social worker and human rights activist who has been working since 28 years to protect children and women in the red-light districts from human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. She co-founded Prerana that has done pioneering work in the red-light districts of Mumbai. She is accredited with several path-breaking social interventions in the anti-trafficking domain that includes world’s first night care shelter in the midst of a red light area, first network of anti-trafficking organizations in India etc. She has lead several advocacy initiatives at national and global level and has to her credit the largest number of legal interventions and writ petitions in India. The Government of India incorporated the programme measures pioneered and standardized by her in the first National Plan of Action 1998 against trafficking of children and women. Her intervention under Children Affected by AIDS programme was adjudged by Washington University as one of World’s 7 best interventions of working with AIDS affected persons. In 2014, she received the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award in Human Rights for her life’s work.
CEO and Founder, ADM Capital Foundation
Lisa founded ADMCF, in 2006 for the partners of Hong Kong-based ADM Capital. She has built ADMCF into a team of 12, working in eight Asian countries and overseen the allocation of close to US$ 15 million in philanthropic investments. Before working in the non-profit sector, Lisa worked for ten years with the Associated Press, three as a correspondent based in Rio de Janeiro, three on the foreign desk and four as a financial reporter in New York. She created and authored “On The Job” a column on women and workplace issues, which was widely syndicated. She writes a blog on philanthropy in Asia and some of the region’s most significant environmental and poverty challenges. Lisa holds a BA degree with High Honors from Smith College and an LLM in Human Rights Law from Hong Kong University.
Director Aarambh & India Manager ADM Capital Foundation
Uma is the driving force behind conceptualizing Aarambh. She has over 8 years of experience of working with children at risk. In 2012, she travelled to Thailand and Philippines to understand the International Break the Silence model and was trained as a master trainer in CSAP. The consequent insights and her passion to create impact in child protection in India led to the creation of Aarambh. Before joining ADMCF, she worked for 4 years with the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children (PCVC) across 3 states implementing and overseeing grassroots projects on rescue and rehabilitation of working children. Besides her Masters in Social Work, she has completed a one month fellowship at the Oslo University College and an executive education program in Social Entrepreneurship from INSEAD School of Business, Singapore in 2013.
Program Coordinator, Child Friendly Systems
Pranita has a Master’s degree in Social Work specialized in Women Centered Practice from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. During her college, she gained field experience working on the issues related to Gender Sensitization, Education of children, Community schools and Shelter homes.Her post graduate research was titled “Understanding Perception of Adolescents Towards Sexuality”. Working with children has been her lifetime goal. At Aarambh India, she is working with “Child Friendly Systems in Mumbai” initiative which in collaboration with UNICEF, works with victims of sexual offences & the systems of justice and rehabilitation that they have to pass through.
Program Coordinator, Child Friendly Systems
Shefali completed Bachelors in Psychology (Child Guidance) and Masters in Social work from Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women’s University. She completed her Research titled ‘Challenges Faced by Women Police Constables in their Professional and Personal Life.’ During her fieldwork, she was placed with Bharatiya Stree Shakti, Women’s India Trust, Bal Asha Trust and Vacha Charitable Trust where she worked on issues facing women and children. She is a budding poet whose poetry has won many university-level awards. At Aarambh India, She works with the “Child Friendly Systems in Mumbai” initiative which, in collaboration with UNICEF, works with victims of sexual offences & the systems of justice and rehabilitation that they have to pass through.
Program Coordinator, Child Friendly Systems
Sawleha completed Bachelors in Sociology and Masters in Social work from Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women’s University. While there, she completed her research titled ‘A Problem Faced by Women Beggars in Mumbai.’ During her fieldwork, she was placed with ADAPT, Swayamsiddha Foundation, Humsafar Trust and the District Child Protection Unit, Mumbai.
Sharon Ann Sabu
Counsellor, Child Friendly Systems
Sharon has Master’s Degree in Social work specialized in Mental Health from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and has Bachelors in Social work from Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, Kalammasery, Kerala. During her master’s she had field work exposure of working in Mental Health organisations like Sambandh Health Foundation, Gurgaon and Trust for Reaching Unreached, Vadodara which helped in shaping her mental health perspectives. She did her M.A dissertation on the topic “Mothers’ experience and knowledge about Children with Intellectual Disability”.
At Aarambh India, she works as Counsellor with the “Child Friendly Systems in Mumbai” initiative which, in collaboration with UNICEF, works with victims of sexual offences & the systems of justice and helps in psychosocial rehabilitation of victims.
Co-Director & Communications Manager
For the last 8 years, Siddharth has worked with non-profits across India managing communications. At Aarambh he takes forward the national network and resource centre activities. He has worked as a communications manager for Video Volunteers, and on several successful online campaigns including ARTICLE 17 and the Hunger Videos, a series of videos produced in collaboration with Red Cross. Prior to that, he worked with the Bangalore-based Centre for Information & Development Studies (CIEDS). He curated the ‘Cinema of Resistance’ package for World Social Forum 2007, Nairobi. In 2009, he was invited to cover the Berlin Film Festival as part of the Talent Press Initiative. He was the festival coordinator and curator for Voices from the Waters, one of the largest environmental film festivals in the country between 2007 and 2010. He works on film research projects in his free time.
Program Manager, Child Friendly Systems
Aarti has completed her Masters in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the Durham University, England. Her dissertation was titled “Exploring Culture at a Height: Role of Kinship and Marriages in Ladakh”. Since then, she has worked as a qualitative researcher on research studies for FHI360 and SNEHA. She also worked as Project Manager for the Bridge-To-Education project in Prerana. At Aarambh India, Aarti manages the “Child Friendly Systems in Mumbai” initiative which in collaboration with UNICEF, works with victims of sexual offences & the systems of justice and rehabilitation that they have to pass through.
Coordinator MCSN & Case Management
Reshma has completed her Masters in Women Centered Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. At Aarambh, she is the coordinator for the Mumbai Children’s Safety Network and case management. In her 3 years of experience in the development sector, she has worked extensively on women’s empowerment, education of tribal children, gender sensitization and rights of differently-abled children. Previously she was as Senior Community Mobilizer with Swadahaar FinAccess where she worked with various women’s groups all over Mumbai on the issue of financial education. Post that, she worked under her alma mater as a program officer on the National University Student Skill Development Program.
Dr. Pooja Kandula
Pooja is a qualified dentist but it is development work at the grassroots that moves her spirit. She completed Masters in Social Work with a specialization in Child Rights and Protection from Amrita University, Coimbatore. As a part of her dissertation, she did a research on independent migration of children and worked on framing child protection policies for NGOs in Coimbatore. In the last four years she has worked with government and civil society organizations engaged in providing support to children at risk. She worked as a Program Manager in Bihar with Nari Gunjan , an organization working with Musahars, one of the most vulnerable communities in the state. At Aarambh, she drives the new research unit.
Director Children At Risk, ADM Capital Foundation
Francesco is currently the director of the Children at Risk program for ADMCF as well as the President of the Firetree Asia Foundation. Both foundations focus on supporting the most marginalized children and youth in Asia. Francesco spends the majority of his time working with local Asian organizations to strengthen their management and governance. Between 2003 and 2008 Francesco lived in Cambodia where he co-founded M’Lop Tapang, a holistic project for street children. Francesco sits on the Board of Directors of M’Lop Tapang, Action Pour Les Enfants (Cambodia) and Thrive Networks Foundation (Hong Kong). Previous to his work with non-profit institutions, Francesco worked for eight years in finance in North America and Europe. He holds an LLM degree (International law) and a Masters Degree in Management.
Dr. Pravin Patkar
Adjunct Professor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham & Co-Founder, Prerana
Dr. Patkar is a noted social activist, teacher, academician and writer. He is the founder of Prerana. He is the founder and managing trustee of Pariwartan ‘84, an action programme to end trafficking of tribals for forced labour that successfully helped closed down the bonded labour system. Previously he was at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for 20 years teaching at the postgraduate level and guiding multidisciplinary research. He has published several papers on Development Impact, Labor Economics, Environment, Agriculture, Trafficking, Sex Tourism among other subjects. His grassroots work has been recognized and feted by several national and international organizations. He is also a published author of award-winning short stories in Marathi and has worked and consulted on many acclaimed tele-serials, documentaries and public service ads. Currently he is the Adjunct Professor at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Coimbatore.
Director of Events and PR, Leo Burnett
Seema has over 17 years of varied experience that includes journalism, teaching, corporate communications and non-profit management. She worked as the COO of the Salaam Bombay Foundation for three years. She single-handedly managed the 7-day triennial World Conference on Tobacco for Health conference plus Youth convention spread across 130 nations. The Goa fest has been a major part of her portfolio since 2006. She has worked with prominent brands and has won awards at Cannes and AMEA. She set-up Leo Hope- a cell that advertises for non-profits along with the project management department of Leo Burnett. She holds a masters degree in journalism.
A Market Research and Strategic Consulting Professional with more than 9 years of experience, Rohit has worked in USA and India with leading businesses and corporate houses. His work ranges across multiple industries including television, video gaming, telecommunications, consumer goods, online services and non-profits.
Founder & CEO DigiSarathi
Post a M.S. degree in Comp Science & work experience in Netherlands, Prashant spent 5 years at NASSCOM Foundation launching and managing landmark programs such as BiGTech.in with Techsoup USA and ConnectIT with Microsoft. True to his belief in volunteering impact, Prashant conceptualized MyKartavya program for NASSCOM member companies to leverage corporate volunteering. Working with hundreds of non-profits across India as the Foundation’s Associate VP & Tech Officer got him very close to their Technology challenges. With these insights & ideas Prashant founded DigiSarathi in 2012 and engages the latest technologies to enable low-cost IT solutions for the SMEs and NGOs in India. A special focus is on Internet and mobile opportunities for business, digital story telling & branding.
Mallika has over 16 years of varied experience. She spent 8 years in Corporate and Investment Banking with Rabobank before moving to development as part of the National Management team of NGO Pratham. She spent over 4 years with Pratham, devoting her financial skills to making the Read India campaign a success through fund raising, resource allocation and program management. The campaign reached over 60 million children and 550 districts across India. Using her experience and skills gained in banking and development, she has now donned the mantle of a social entrepreneur and is focused on creating revenue generation models for the youth of India. She has been using an established interiors business as a platform to innovate and pilot these models. Mallika continues to work actively for child rights, and believes strongly in Aarambh and its model of resource sharing to ensure an end to child sexual abuse. She holds a MBA degree from the Indian School of Business.