Odisha launches awareness drive on child sexual abuse

Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India] May 31 (ANI): Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has launched a state-wide awareness campaign of Odisha Police against child sexual abuse. The campaign tilted 'Paree Pain Katha Tiye' (A word for the little angel) is being organised in collaboration with UNICEF. During the launch ceremony held in Bhubaneswar earlier this week, Patnaik flagged off 15 vans modified as 'Paree Express.' These vehicles will cover all 30 districts of the state during the campaign from May 28 to June 12, 2018. Prafulla Samal, Minister of Women and Child Development, A.P.Padhi, Chief Secretary, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sharma, Director General of Police, Asheet Tripathy, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Yumi Bae, Chief, UNICEF Odisha and senior police officers were present on the occasion. Also present were elected representatives, UNICEF officials, development partners and members from civil society. While flagging off the Paree Express vans, Patnaik expressed great happiness on the initiative of Odisha Police towards tackling the issue of sexual abuse of children in collaboration with UNICEF. He said that the Paree Express will make the community aware about the problem and understand that our responsibility in tackling it. He wished the campaign a big success. He later signed the message-board at the venue with his message,Save the Girl Child. Prafulla Samal appreciated Odisha Police and UNICEF for taking lead in such an initiative. He said state government has organized many qualitative initiatives for women safety and against child abuse. He also recognized the efforts of the Department of Culture in involving folk artistes in the campaign. A.P. Padhi, Chief Secretary, highlighted the problem of child sexual abuseand the relevance of the campaign. He appreciated the Odisha Police for their efforts and hoped that the initiative will make an impact on society. Stressing the key objective of the campaign, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sharma, expressed his gratitude to the chief minister for flagging off the campaign and his support and keen involvement in initiatives involving women and children'sissues. He thanked UNICEF for their technical support and collaboration with the Odisha Police for this campaign. Asheet Tripathy congratulated UNICEF and Odisha Police and said this campaign shall definitely help in dealing with child sexual abuse. He added that child sexual abuse is a very critical issue which needs to be taken very seriously as 1000 to 1200 such cases are registered every year. Yumi Bae said child sexual abuse is a very complex issue. Public awareness is needed, as most of the perpetrators are known to the children and are usually their neighbors, families, relatives and from close communities. She thanked the Odisha police for spreading this strong message regarding child sexual abuse and steps to be taken towards it. In each district the campaign will be led by the Superintendent of Police and District Collector. 'Paree Express' will move across each district based on a carefully charted route that touches the most vulnerable pockets. Each halt will be of 1-2 hours and will involve all key stakeholders such as elected representatives, community members, influencers, youth, SHG groups and children. The meetings will convene with folk performances by specially trained local cultural troupes, film screening followed by dialogue with the community. After covering all the districts of Odisha, the 15 'Paree Express' vans will converge in Bhubaneswar on 12th June, 2018 for the concluding function. Sexual violence against children is a global reality across all social groups. Child sexual abuse is one of the worst forms of abuse. In most cases the offenders are known to the young victims and can be close family relatives, friends, neighbors, community members etc. Child sexual abuse can take form of harassment, rape or sexual exploitation in prostitution or pornography. It can happen in homes, institutions, schools and workplaces. Increasingly, the internet and mobile phones also put children at risk of sexual violence. There is also an increase in the number and circulation of images of child abuse on internet. A 2014 UNICEF study, 'Hidden in Plain Sight', estimates that around 120 million girls under the age of 20 have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point of their lives. Boys also report experiences of sexual violence, but to a lesser extent. The true magnitude of sexual violence is hidden because of its sensitive and illegal nature. Many children and families do not report cases of abuse and exploitation because of perceived stigmaandfear. Social tolerance and lack of awareness also contribute to under-reporting. Evidence shows that sexual violence can have serious short and long-term physical, psychological and social consequences not only for victim child but also for their families and communities. This includes increased risks for illness, unwanted pregnancy, psychological distress, discrimination and difficulties at school. The campaign will seek to create awareness on the importance and role of each one of us in preventing child sexual abuse, the need for reporting, legal provisions and need for trauma care.
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