Representational image (Photo: PTI)
Amnesty International India on Thursday launched a new campaign aimed at creating awareness among children to help them understand and identify sexual abuse.
The campaign 'Our Safety, Our Rights' seeks to empower children to speak up and report sexual abuse without fear.
Amnesty International India will manage the campaign in collaboration with Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, People's Action for Rural Awakening (PARA) and Institute of Social Education.
It will engage with children in 400 schools, across four Indian states and through this campaign, an estimated 50,000 students, parents, teachers, and other key stakeholders will be sensitized on the issue of child sexual abuse.
"At a time when there is an alarming increase in reports of child sexual abuse, it is critical to empower children to be aware of the issue and protect themselves.
"The need of the hour is for schools, in particular, to proactively help prevent child sexual abuse by educating children and enabling a safe environment for them," said Rajakumari Michaelsamy, programme manager of the Human Rights Education programme at Amnesty International India.
The latest National Crime Records Bureau data published in 2016 revealed that incidents of child rape have increased by over 82 percent when compared to 2015.
The data showed that over 19,000 cases of child rape were registered across the country under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and, a total of around 36,000 cases of child sexual abuse, including other forms of sexual assault, were recorded under POCSO Act alone.
However, these numbers only represent the tip of the iceberg as these are the cases that were reported to the authorities and studies have shown that cases of child sexual abuse remain largely unreported, the body said.
"It is important to recognize that child sexual abuse is widespread across all sections of society, and hence, we must reach out to as many students as possible.
"We want to empower children to stand up and break the silence around child sexual abuse," said Ignatius Vattigunta, director of PARA.
The campaign will be taken up by schools in Amnesty International India's Human Rights Education network in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and will engage with teachers, parents, communities, institutions and state authorities.
The campaign will culminate on October 11 - International Day of the Girl Child.