Inception of the Advocacy Forum

Since we started our journey at Mental Health Foundation, Kolkata, in 2010, we have been evaluating and offering therapeutic support to children, adolescents and adults who have been sexually abused. There have been situations when individuals have reached out after learning about our services. Incidents of disclosures in therapeutic setting and parents connecting for guidance and support were increasing. We were concerned.

As professionals working in the field with young people, we felt that there are major gaps in the existing system which is supposed to care and protect children and adolescents, who have been sexually abused or at risk of being abused. Additionally, when adult survivors come seeking help, there is lack of good quality, well informed therapeutic resources available. Detection of previous history of sexual abuse, for those who access services, is also poor due to lack of knowledge and training. There appeared a lack of co-ordination, inter-agency collaboration and a tendency to work in isolation, amongst organisations working in this field.

For past three years, RACHSA has been working to create safe schools and increase awareness regarding spreading the message of prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. We are sharing some documents, created by Mental Health Foundation, Kolkata, which we believe, that anyone who has a stake in keeping children safe, should read.

RACSHA’s vision – ‘a world where children are safe
from sexual abuse’.

Hence, in 2016, Mental Health Foundation, Kolkata initiated a platform- an advocacy group, RACSHA (Rise Against Child Sexual Harm & Abuse). It is a network of organisations and individuals working for the prevention, recognition, addressing and healing of victims and survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. With this platform, we aim to increase collaboration, so as to create a more powerful, collective voice, which can then reach out to wider sections of the society, in our fight against Sexual Abuse/ Child Sexual Abuse.

Since its birth, RACSHA has been organising sensitizing workshops on sexuality and child sexual abuse, with schools and in the wider community. Organisations have been discussing relevant issues on behalf of RACSHA- at the Kolkata Book Fair, at street corners and in local communities. We have offered consultation & hand- holding support to families fighting legal battles of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act). On 1st August, 2018, RACSHA members organised a workshop with Schools in Kolkata, at Rotary Sadan. It was called- ‘Ponder, Protect & Prevent’- ways of preventing child sexual harm & abuse. Mental Health Foundation, Kolkata has been a pillar of support in all such programs.

Over the years RACSHA’s membership and engagement has increased. You may connect with us or write to racshainfo@gmail.com for any support on this issue.

Recently RACSHA completed 6 years as an advocacy initiative and this is the 7th year running. Sanchari, youth member of the Way to Sunshine group, RACSHA, made this video.