GUWAHATI, April 3 - Abhinandan Foundation India, a group of child activists, has been trying to curb child sexual abuse and child trafficking cases in the city.
The group comprises 60 children, most of whom are below 16 years of age and all are slum dwellers.
According to founder of the group Chiranjib Chakravarty, a Higher Secondary student of Gauhati Commerce College, Abhinandan Foundation India was formed in 2016 by reviving the Happy Children Club formed by the World Vision India among slum children. They are now concentrating on Uzanbazar, Noonmati and Bhaskar Nagar areas of the city to combat the crimes against children.
�Our aim is to eliminate child sexual abuse, child marriage and child trafficking completely from our society. We have a lot of challenges before us, but we are confident about achieving our objectives,� Chiranjib, himself a slum dweller at Bhaskar Nagar, said while talking to The Assam Tribune.
Narrating their journey so far, Chiranjib said, �Substance abuse and sex rackets are common in our slum area. We always get threats when we raise our voices against such social evils. The area has a mixed population, comprising both Hindus and Muslims, while the majority is Bengali-speaking. The population is of over a thousand people and most of them are daily wagers. The situation is the same in every slum of the city.�
�Child marriage has always been a major problem among these people. Most of these cases remain unreported because of various social issues. Moreover, slum children are not getting proper education due to lack of awareness on the part of the parents and teachers. In some cases, it has been found that even a Class V student is unable to read primary-level books,� he lamented.
According to him, there is a need to make womenfolk more aware of the pertinent issues, as mere celebration of International Women�s Day is not enough to bring a discernible change in the picture.
The Foundation had carried out a survey in 2016 and found 53 child labourers in and around Bhaskar Nagar. The survey report was submitted to the authority concerned, but no action has been taken yet, Chiranjib alleged, adding that some people even engage slum children in various misdeeds, stealing in particular.
�Till today, we have rescued two child victims of sexual abuse and two of trafficking. One of the trafficking victims hailed from Bhutan. One of our members found him crying on the roadside. Then, we contacted the Childline and handed over the boy to them. After one month, the victim called us and informed that he reached home safely.�
�During an awareness camp on �Safe touch and bad touch� at Uzanbazar, we were informed about a child sexual abuse case involving a girl. We were told that one person used to show her porn video forcefully before trying to assault her. Her parents� condition is so poor that they did not want to take any legal step against the offender. But, we managed to convince them and later a complaint was filed at the Latasil Police Station.
�Then, we spent three weeks tracing the pervert and one day caught him red handed at the Uzanbazar fish market just when he was showing porn to the victim,� he said.
Revealing about the third case, he said, �Last year, a man sexually assaulted a seven-year-old girl in the Bhaskar Nagar slum area. In this case, too, her parents did not move the police as they were extremely poor. Later, one of our members came to know about the incident and we tried to convince the parents. Ultimately, they filed a police complaint. The culprit, though, is still absconding.�
�In another case, a girl from the Bhaskar Nagar slum area fell in love with a boy from Mangaldai who had befriended her on Facebook. Later, she eloped with the boy. Unfortunately, after a few days into their �marriage�, the boy took her to Rajasthan and sold her off for Rs 25,000. One day, somehow the victim managed to call up her mother and narrated her ordeal. The victim�s mother then sought our help and we moved the Chandmari Police Station.
�Unfortunately, the response of police was not forthcoming. Without losing heart, we contacted with Sunita Changkakoti, Chairman of the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. It was only after she rang up the officer in-charge of the police station that police took up the case and after three weeks, rescued the girl, too,� he disclosed.
The group carries out awareness camps in various schools of the city, where, according to Chiranjib, all their activities are run with contributions from the members� own pocket money.
�Now we have 60 members. As a tool of creating mass awareness against child abuse, we have organised some rallies in our area, during which we shouted slogans in front of the houses of the culprits involved with the heinous crimes,� he said.
The Foundation is now going to organise a campaign against eve-teasing in Guwahati.