India: Posters in Schools Help Girls Speak Up About Sexual Abuse
Monday, May 23, 2011 11:45 AM

In February, government-run schools in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu began displaying posters which aim to address child sexual abuse.  The project is a collaborative effort between the state government, the Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse (Tulir), and UNICEF.  This is the latest in a series of efforts to combat sexual abuse in India where, one study found, more than 50 percent of children reported facing sexual abuse.


The posters avoid words like “sex” and “abuse,” and instead employ messages like, “No one can touch me and ask me to keep it a secret” and “My body belongs to me.”  These messages are not only meant for students, they are also a warning to faculty.  Last year, some faculty at an Indian school run by a nongovernmental organization were revealed to be abusing children.


In addition, many children who attend government-run schools work as domestic helpers after school, and the posters have spurred some students to report troubling contact with employers.  Private schools have declined to display similar posters saying that such action might suggest that sexual abuse is prevalent in their schools.  An activist and educator for Tulir noted, however, that well-off children may be just as vulnerable to abuse as those coming from low-income families.  


Compiled from: Abuse Posters Help Indian Schoolgirls Speak Up (16 May 2011).