Rise Against Child Sexual Harm and Abuse (RACSHA), a new Kolkata-based network, completed one year on June 3, 2017. A look at their profile, the issues they deal with, and their objectives.

What is RACSHA?
RACSHA is a network of organisations and individuals working for the prevention, recognition, addressing and healing of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA). RACSHA is based in Kolkata. We have teachers, activists, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, social workers, special educators and corporates in our team.

RACSHA works with:
* Child victims and adult survivors
* Communities, caregivers, families and service providers
* State government, non-government, statutory, educational and other bodies

* Create awareness about CSA
* Provide service referrals, information and advice
* Do research and advocacy
* Provide training

This is a stylized artwork largely in black on a musty white background. Inside a square with a thick black border, to the right is a silhouette of a girl child standing and a woman kneeling down, looking up to the girl while holding her hands. There is text next to the silhouette that says: “Believe them without doubt. The first time a child tells might be the ‘only’ time”. To the right of the silhouette, on the border of the square is written in small letters: “Shatter the silence of sexual violence”. The word ‘believe’ is written out at the bottom left and top right corners of the square – to re-emphasize the importance of listening carefully to what a child says. Artwork credit: RACSHA volunteers

Facts about CSA

What is CSA?
When an older, bigger or more powerful person abuses a child, and this abuse involves sexual activity. The abuse happens in secret. It remains mostly undetected by others or is denied. When the abuser is a family member, it is called incest.

What are sexually abusive behaviours?
A wide range of behaviours, that may or may not involve physical contact, like a sexualized look or comment, touching, stroking, showing pornography, and all the way to penetration or rape.

What are the effects of sexual abuse?
CSA can have severe consequences in a person’s life, affecting the way the individual thinks, acts, feels and behaves. It affects emotional, physical, mental and sexual well-being. It can significantly impair growth and development.

Is CSA prevalent in India?
CSA is very prevalent in India. A study by the Government of India in 2007 indicates:
•    Over 53% of children surveyed have undergone sexual abuse
•    50% of the abused are boys
•    50% of the abusers were known to the child or in a position of trust and authority
•    Over 70% of children who have undergone sexual abuse are afraid to report it

Who are child molesters?
Most are family members or known and trusted people who live amongst us. They come from various backgrounds, are of every gender, race, religion, profession and socio-economic group.

Who can be sexually abused?
Any child is vulnerable irrespective of age, gender, ability, education, socio-economic group, or religion.

What are the signs of CSA?
These include changes in behaviour and mood, sexual knowledge inappropriate to age, eating problems, tantrums, bedwetting at an older age, nightmares, frequent illnesses, among others.

Why children don’t talk?
They may be scared, confused, ashamed, struggling to find the appropriate language or may not know whom to tell.

Is prevention possible?
Prevention is possible. This is an adult’s responsibility. Believe it happens, educate oneself, listen to children, give them personal safety information, and create a safe environment for them.

Is there a law?
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 safeguards victims of sexual abuse who are below 18 years.

Is recovery possible?
The effects of CSA do not have to be permanent. It is possible to recover. Having an individual who listens, trusts, and is non-judgmental with the child victim or adult survivor is a good start to recovery.

What we offer
For advice and information regarding counselling, legal and medical help, training and consultations call RACSHA at 0091 90077 74175 or 0091 98302 70149, email us at racshainfo@gmail.com or go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/racsha/

About the main artwork: RACSHA logo (all artwork credits to RACSHA volunteers).