Every hour, 4 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 organizations 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.
Cactus is ensuring that children are heard, and such conversations are not avoided. Only through education and awareness can the country be one step closer to keeping our children safe and healthy.
A fighter, mother and a survivor of child sexual abuse, Nusrat is determined to ensure no other child experiences the physical or emotional trauma of such horrendous acts. But it’s not that easy since even adults can be unclear on what is sexual abuse – many assume it is purely a physical act. But it’s not.
According to The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, making a child watch objectionable content, and making any form of inappropriate gestures or sounds with sexual intent, is also a form of sexual abuse.
Educating children on this is an important first step to prevention.
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