Introduce ‘Personal Safety Education’ in School Curriculum to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

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I have been working on raising awareness about child sexual abuse in Jammu and Kashmir for more than two and a half years now. Nine out of ten people, I usually speak to, deny the occurrence of child sexual abuse in Kashmir. The response I am most familiar with is that ‘child sexual abuse doesn’t happen in Kashmir.’ 

However, according to a study conducted by Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), 53% of children across 13 states of India were sexually abused in 2007.

I fail to understand that if child sexual abuse doesn’t happen in Jammu and Kashmir then how did Kathua rape and murder take place?

In fact, it was the brutal rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua, which prompted the Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet to pass an ordinance on Protection of Children from Sexual Violence Ordinance (POCSVO) in April 2018.

Similarly, on the other side of the border, the brutal rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl prompted the Government of Punjab in Pakistan to announce plans to introduce ‘Child Abuse Awareness’ in their school curriculum.

Undoubtedly, child sexual abuse is quite prevalent in our society, yet we wait for incidents like Kathua and Punjab to happen before taking any much needed preventive measures to address such issues.

My question is very simple: Can we not act proactively and come up with solutions to prevent social evils like child sexual abuse beforehand?

It is very important to understand that child sexual abuse scars a child for a lifetime and the healing process in such cases is very slow. Our Judiciary doesn't help either because the lengthy trials only lead to re-victimisation of a child/adult who dares to speak up against his or her childhood abuser/s.

Therefore, I want the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to introduce a comprehensive ‘Personal Safety Education Program’ in our school curriculum to address child sexual abuse at its roots.

Our children must be made aware about what’s 'safe touch' and what’s 'unsafe touch' from a very young age, in addition to sensitising the teachers and parents in our respective societies about this serious issue. It is time to overcome the myths and social stigma attributed to sex education.

Please sign my petition and join me in saving thousands of children from falling prey to child predators in Jammu and Kashmir.