CSR Times – Child Sex Abuse is a very sensitive topic and we have been receiving reports related to it very frequently. What are your views on this and the difficulties you face while working in community?
Pooja Taparia-Obviously, we do face a lot of difficulties. From the very beginning, the entire mind set in the society has been that of denial.So when we started working on child sexual abuse in 2006 we encountered a lot of people who refused who believe that this could happen in their society or thought that it happened only in slums.
However over a period of time and active media reporting, people have accepted the fact that it is an issue, and it is happening. They have also realized that, something needs to be done about it. So now when we conduct awareness sessions with parents, teachers there is more acceptance of the issue.However when we approach educational institutes about conducting programs in schools, such as teaching children to take care, few schools are hesitant and don’t want to organize the programs. They believe that their students do not need any such guidance.So there is still some resistance that we need to overcome while doing preventive work.Otherwise there are no major challenges, and I think now as a community we are accepting the issue.
CSR Times –Which are the geographical areas where you are active? Do you work in other areas apart from Mumbai?
Pooja Taparia-Our direct work is with school children in Mumbai and Thane. We also conduct trainings out of Bombay, basically anywhere in the country.
CSR Times- What is this training all about?Do you also provide training to teachers?
Pooja Taparia – Yes, we provide training to teachers, social workers, and NGO professionals on how they can tackle child abuse in their environment.Also if they are interested, we train them in special education programs on how to tackle cases of child abuse so that they can educate their children accordingly in their environment. It is usually a four-five days training program.
CSR Times – So how much time does it take to provide training to a school or an organization?
Pooja Taparia–Training is for about three to five days but if we work directly in school with children then it may differ based on the number of children in a school. Suppose a school has 300 children, the program might finish in three weeks or a month, but if a school has 1000 children then it might take about two months or sometimes even more.So it all depends on the number of children in the school.We usually target the students’ of class 1 to class 8 for the training.
CSR Times – What is the ‘Healing Services’ that is mentioned on your website?
Pooja Taparia – Healing Services is about counseling. We try to heal people that have experienced abuse through counseling. We offer counseling services for children as well as adults who suffered sexual abuse.
CSR Times – Would you like to share any story of Child Sex Abuse that you may have come across?
Pooja Taparia –This was a recent disclosure. We were teaching personal safety education in a school and an eight year old child came to us and told us that she was being abused by the driver of the car. We called the parents and they immediately took action. They made sure that the abuse stopped and they sacked the driver as well. They also taught all the children in the house about personal safety. Counseling has an amazing impact because over a period, it helps those abused toput that away their experiences and move on with more confidence,assertiveness, reduce anxiety, and fewer traumas.
CSR Times – Where do you think the society is heading towards? Is it heading more towards the problem or towards the solution?
Pooja Taparia–That is a difficult question to answer.It might seem that the instances of child abuse are increasing because either they are talked a lot about or more cases of child abuse cases are registered due to awareness. In any case they are increasing.
Breaking silence in this issue that we consider a taboo is very important.The fact that people have started talking about it and acknowledging it is brilliant. There are also more cases reported which in a way is encouraging because more reporting would mean that more people are accepting it. Acceptance of the problem will build awareness and also help to find solutions for the cause.
CSR Times – Do you implement any impact assessment methodology?
Pooja Taparia –Absolutely, we do and you can look at the annual reports. We measure impacts in three steps analysis.We get feedback through forms that we distribute. We recently got a social research agency to audit our reports and education programs. So we do external audit programs as well.We are very particular about our performance and conduct audits to measure the impacts.
CSR Times – So do have your own methodology or have you adopted any methodology?
Pooja Taparia – We come up with our own rating scales and our own methodology.
CSR Times – Are your methods applicable across India?
Pooja Taparia–Our methods are applicable anywhere in the country, because the modules are very general in nature.We have applied our modules in rural areas like Alibag and a small town called Valsad in Gujarat and the modules worked perfectly fine. So, for all the trainings that we have undertaken, we have got positive responses. So far we have conducted trainings on personal safety in 700 schools across the country and we have received encouraging feedback.
CSR Times – How can one get access to understand your methodology and learn from it?
Pooja Taparia-I think to begin with, what you can do is sharing our annual reports which will show evidence of our work. Our forms are internal and if someone wants to specifically measure impact of education that is the form to access. There is another form for counseling. In other words, we have many formats, so anybody who is interested can directly get in touch with us.Based on their requirements we can provide support.For starters, understanding our annual reports is helpful for anyone who is willing to work for this cause.
Arpan is a registered NGO based in Mumbai and the largest in the world* working on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) with a team of dedicated and skilled professionals since the year 2006. Arpan has reached out to over 85,671 children and adults directly and over 2, 11, 808 individuals indirectly since its inception.
Arpan is currently working in Mumbai and Thane in Maharashtra with a child centric model of intervention in the area of child sexual abuse (CSA) with a balanced emphasis on prevention and healing components. While the focus is on children, Arpan also understands the need for reaching out to adult survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA) in order to support them in an adequate manner and prevent any further re-victimization as well as enable them to heal from the impact of child sexual abuse.
Arpan empowers children, teachers, parents, NGO professionals and other care givers in multiple setting like schools, NGO set ups, institutions etc. with knowledge, skills and attitude to prevent instances of child sexual abuse and provide adequate support to children who have been victims. Along with empowering relevant stakeholders, Arpan also offers psychotherapeutic support through trained, qualified therapists to children and adult survivors of sexual abuse and their families.
With a focused approach, to deal with the complex multifaceted reality and the ambiguous terrain of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Arpan has evolved into being one of key players in the sector of child protection.
For more information please visit www.arpan.org.in
About Pooja Taparia
Pooja Taparia is Founder, Trustee and CEO of Arpan. She started work on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in 2006 and has built a team that has grown from 3 to 60 professionals within a short period of time.
Pooja is a graduate in Applied Art/Graphic Design and in Commerce. She is an entrepreneur, coming from a business family and has invested considerable time in setting up her family business and managing a number of high-profile freelance design print and web media projects for companies and individuals.
However, Pooja has spent most of her professional career working in social change and development. She has spent over 8000 hours working in the voluntary sector, mainly investing her time, expertise and resources with an educational institute based in Gujarat, India before starting Arpan.
Pooja envisages Arpan becoming a national level resource agency on Child Sexual Abuse positively changing the lives of millions of children in India through its direct work as well as through its partnerships and capacity building activities with like minded organizations and individuals. Pooja was also awarded the ‘Karmaveer Puraskaar’ award by I CONGO in year 2010 for her work on Child Abuse.
Source : CSR Time.