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Sangam empowers young minds against abuse

K. Lakshmi
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Children from groups formed by Arunodhaya Centre participated in convention

For a cause:Through interactive sessions and cultural performances, the convention drove home the need for children to speak up against any harassment meted out to them —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam
For a cause:Through interactive sessions and cultural performances, the convention drove home the need for children to speak up against any harassment meted out to them —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Children from various parts of the city came together on Saturday to learn about their rights and how to protect themselves from sexual abuse.

A convention organised by the Confederation of Arunodhaya Children Sangam at Royapuram reached out through interactive sessions and cultural performances by the children, and drove home the need to speak up against harassment meted out to them.

The children from sangams formed across the city by Arunodhaya Centre for Street and Working Children also viewed a documentary against sexual abuse that was released on the occasion.

Inaugurating an exhibition held as part of the convention, Saraswathi Rangaswamy, chairperson of Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said the commission would organise awareness programmes on prevention of child sexual abuse in Chennai by mid-January.

In the last 11 months, the Commission has dealt with four cases of sexual harassment in various districts and Rs. 3 lakh has been provided to each of the affected girls and their families from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

“We are conducting inquiries into four cases now. Sometimes, teachers too indulge in such offences. We are insisting that a complaint box be installed in all schools to encourage students to come out and talk about any abuse,” she said.

In a bid to create awareness about The Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, the Commission also plans to hold programmes in other districts as well.

Arunodhaya’s executive director Virgil D’Sami said: “We are dealing with prevention of early child marriage. We also came across instances of children sexually abused in schools and their neighbourhood. We decided to create awareness among children through 77 such sangams functioning across the city.”

Representatives of the Children Sangam demanded that a separate helpline be formed for complaints against child sexual abuse and counselling centres be provided in schools.

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