Thursday, December 16, 2010

Seminar on Best Practices in Investigation & Prosecution of Sexual Offences Against Children

 While only a minuscule number of  child victims of sexual violence and their families are   formally within the purview of the criminal justice system (CJS), increasing engagement with it has brought attention to the gaps and lacunae in the investigative and  trial processes and procedures. Having to face the criminal justice system that is geared to the needs of adults can be a difficult experience for any victim of crime. When it comes to affected  children the experience can be doubly traumatic, thereby seriously undermining the full respect of the rights of the child. At the very least it can be intimidating. The Police, Doctors, Forensic scientists and  Public Prosecutors each have an unique but integrated role in responding to reported cases of sexual offenses against children.To that end it is imperative that these duty bearers in Chennai  identify and address existing lacunae, share best practices and evolve simple  and uniform  protocols and proceedures   to efficiently handle cases of sexual violence against children.Tulir organized  the Seminar at the Modern Control Room, Commissionarate of Police, Chennai.
Joint Commissioner ( South) Mr Sakthivel's  inaugural address  set the tone for the deliberations relevant observations  which were followed by presentations  and Q & A. The eminent panel - Dr Santhakumar, Director of Forensics and Dr Selvakumar, Asst. Prof. Madars Medical College, Ms Tara from the Forensics Sciences Laborartory and Mr Panneerselvam, Addl. Public prosecutor, shared their expertise and clarified  the queries from the particpants who represented multiple disciplines.
Concrete and viable reccomendations  will be forwarded to appropriate authorities for consideration.
Dignity on Trial, A report by HRW on "India's need for Sound Standards for Conducting and Intepreting Forensic Examinations of Rape Survivors", was  distributed, and we were very pleased that Ms Aruna Kashyap, author of the report partcipated in the Seminar and shared her views.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"I am" becaue we are

I am Abhimanyu - a very sensitive and insightful   film which
underscores the point that it is possible to amke a film on child sexual abuse without being voyueristic  or sensational, or  crude. And that too when it is not a documentary.
Brillinat is the way Onir has captured the  little nuances which show the insidious way abus ehappens and impacts.
I am Omar, which followed the same vein of direction, also  opened new avenues of  understanding of  being gay, against the current backdrop of attitudes and the law, in India
The panel discussion  moderated by Bharadwaj Rangan , Film Critic, New Indian Express which followed  was  lively, thought provoking  and informative   ranging from film based to issue based questions, with active audience particpation and betweeen the panelists -  Aniruddh from Shakti Centre, Onir and Arjun Mathur  who acts as Omar, Vidya from Tulir and Shaila, Advocate and Legal Scholar Shaila

Monday, December 6, 2010

Walk your Voice - Rallying against Child Sexual Abuse

A video of Walk your Voice - Rallying against Child Sexual Abuse which happened a fortnight ago at Besant Nagar Beach, Chennai and saw active particiaption from concerned citizens as well as engagement with bystanders.

Ethiraj College takes a stand!

 Many thanks to the Prinicipal for supporting the Daring to Care campaign which is working  towards at least the citizens of Chennai being in one state of mind - to prevent and address sexual violence.
And  we hope many more realise that all that  we ask of them/it takes is to provide us a little space to set up a kiosk/desk to set up our dispaly and arrange the material for distribution

'Sensitive reporting of child sex abuse must'

'Sensitive reporting of child sex abuse must'

First Published : 03 Dec 2010 02:34:48 AM IST
Last Updated : 03 Dec 2010 10:51:58 AM IST

CHENNAI: A panel discussion on the role of media in shaping opinion on sexual violence against children unanimously called for increased sensitivity to the issue among both journalists and civil society. The panelists called for strong legislation to punish media outfits that pushed the boundaries of sensitive reportage, while also calling on civil society to express themselves in ways that would pressure the government to react decisively to incidents of child sexual abuse.

Noted Tamil writer and columnist Gnani blamed the inability of the Indian society to deal with matters of sexuality for the lack of discourse or proper reaction to instances of child sexual abuse. "We are supposed to be conservative, when we are actually perverted and voyeuristic. Till we deal with sexuality, how can we address sexual abuse?" he asked. He also pointed out that the disturbing trend of parents dressing their children up like glam dolls could be one of the triggers for molestation.

The New Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Aditya Sinha on the other hand called for the enforcement of ethical commitments by media organisations. "Only one news organisation in the country has a publicly stated code of ethics. Stringent legislation is required to check insensitive publication of sexual crimes against children, as media outfits have demonstrated they cannot regulate themselves," said Sinha.

Nilanjana Bose, Features Editor of CNNIBN, said though some media houses were making attempts to be responsible, there was little feedback from the public through regulatory bodies, such as the National Broadcasters' Association.

Every member of the panel though, agreed on the need to sensitise journalists to the precariousness of victims of sexual violence against children. The panel discussion, organised by Tulir, an organisation fighting child sexual abuse, also featured Times of India Metro Editor Arun Ram and media critic Sevanti Ninan. Legal scholar Geeta Ramaseshan moderated the discussion.

A fun-filled, yet thought-provoking trip

Policemen talk to school students on the perils of the job, ensuring security and more

The law speaks:Commissioner of Police T. Rajendran and Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Shakeel Ahkter interact with children as part of the open house for school students in Chennai on Monday.

CHENNAI: Rubbing shoulders with the Khaki-clad forces may not be the average school student's idea of a fun trip, but when it actually happened, it left many a young mind pondering the various aspects of community safety.
To commemorate ‘World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse', the police organised an open house for school children in 84 police stations across the city followed by an oratorical competition on ‘My visit to the Police Station,' on Monday. An interaction wherein children from 22 schools posed various questions and shared their experiences of the visit with the Commissioner of Police T. Rajendran and other senior police officers was the highlight of the day.
The interaction revealed that from court records, boards displaying the history of the police stations and photographs of missing people to communication sets used by the police personnel to transmit information, the children loved it all. Besides the advanced fingerprint recognition system that generated a lot of enthusiasm, the students showed an interest to know more about the rifles, pistols, guns and the patrol cars used by the police.
While many children were eager to know the minimum age for joining the force, Sushen Kumar, a student of St. John's Matriculation Higher Secondary School, wondered if the dungeon-like jails really lacked basic amenities. R. Balajee of Dhanish Matriculation Higher Secondary School, on the other hand, seemed thrilled to flaunt his knew-found knowledge of the police hierarchy by deftly summarising the division of zones down to districts and ranges, and shifts the police operate in. While some asked interesting questions about the stars on the uniform and the procedure of lodging a complaint, many talked about how stern-looking policemen offered them useful advice on being safe during the visit.
For those who have always held a fascination for the police forces such as M.A.Aadhil of Dhanish Matriculation Higher Secondary School, the visit only deepened the interest. “I like listening to brave encounters and the intelligent rescue operations the police does, but now I know it is all not that easy.”
The interaction also saw a few share thoughts on some substantial issues. "The question of child abuse is being discussed openly now and with such awareness and support from officials, it will be easier to confront it," said R. Abhirami, a parent of an eight-year-old. Many had their share of suggestions too. “When I looked into the kind of fighting equipment used to tackle city crime, I thought we should have modern gadgets that can be faster and more effective,” said V. Dinesh of SBIOA Model Matriculation Higher Secondary School.
R. Parthiban of SBIOA Model Matriculation Higher Secondary School was vocal in his concern about the poor police to people ratio in the city. “Policemen, for all the risks they take, should be provided more security and salaries too," he said.
At a time when many questions are being raised on child safety, most students felt that this visit cleared many myths they associate with policemen.
C. Sathiyaseelan , a teacher at St. John' s Matriculation Higher Secondary School, said that Road Safety Patrols should be given more priority in schools, and not be treated as just another activity as they enable children to learn traffic rules and follow them instinctively besides inspiring their peers and parents to do so.
The objective, according to Vidya Reddy of Tulir, was to dispel the prevailing notion among children, due to social conditioning and the media, that the police are unapproachable and not child-friendly. Children need to understand how the police work so that as future complainants or accused, they would know better, she said.
Re-iterating the guidelines of safety, Mr. Rajendran said that besides knowing the numbers of various helplines, children should take care not to talk to strangers, and maintain a distance from drivers who transport them to school. Instances of kidnappings are less, but it is always better for parents to have the contact numbers and other details of the persons children normally have to interact with. He added that tolerance, developed in the initial years of life, would go a long way in building a safe and secure society. “Childhood is a formative yet beautiful time when you learn to be united despite social and economic differences,” he said. A quiz on child rights and civic responsibilities was also part of the programme. The students, later, were treated to lunch with the Commissioner of Police.

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Sundram Medical Foundation(SMF) Dares to Care

As a follow up of the Against Child Abuse  run of  the Madras Hash House Harriers about three weeks ago, one of the Hashers, Dr Vijaya Rangarajan Founder and Trustee of SMF invited us to set up an Awareness Desk at Dr Rangarajan Memorial Hospital, Chennai.
Thanks Dr Rangarajan and SMF. This is exactly the kind of  effect Tulir hopes will snowball  from individual community initiatives into a critical mass of awarness about child sexual abuse.
We were given a  prominent space at the entrance  which allowed for the interns from Tulir  to engage  with a large number of visitors and distribute awareness material.