The recent alleged rape of a three-year-old child in Sumbal area of Bandipora district riled Dr Khawar Khan Achakzai so much that he set out do something to raise awareness about child sexual abuse in Kashmir.
A social activist and a doctor working in a governmenthospital here, Dr Achakzai formed Aagosh, the first non-governmentalorganisation (NGO) in Kashmir to campaign against child sexual abuse in thevalley.
Aagosh started off its campaign from a local private schoolin Khanyar area of downtown Srinagar by conducting a workshop, training parentsand teachers for prevention and detection of child sexual abuse cases.
The workshop was a result of Dr Achakzai calling his friendsand rights activists, psychologists and media persons, asking them to suggestways to stop child sexual abuse.
"I have lots of people with me who are actively working onchild rights issues in their respective fields, so I thought to bring themtogether and come up with ideas about how to tackle this problem of lack ofeducation and awareness about child sexual abuse in Kashmir," Dr Achakzai said.
The idea of forming the group was to give preliminarytraining to caregivers – parents and teachers – on prevention of child abuseand introduce them to proper ways of educating children about possibility ofabuse besides spreading awareness about child protection laws.
"Personally, I feel that there are lot of civil society andsocial groups who are talking about so many things, but no one talks aboutchild sexual abuse. So to talk about this issue I started Aagosh," Dr Achakzaisaid.
"They somehow feel that this is not a relevant topic todiscuss."
To begin with, the first workshop was conducted recently atthe Blue Bells School in Khanyar where teacher trainers, psychologists,journalists and social workers spoke extensively on child abuse.
"It was the first school-based workshop which was conductedin Kashmir. We mainly targeted caregivers – teachers and parents. They areactually the people who deal with the children, who teach or interact with themat home or other places," Dr Achakzai said.
"In the workshop tips and a preliminary training were givento the teachers. A lecture was delivered by a psychologist on the changes in achild who has undergone sexual abuse, how does the behaviour of the childchange and how to approach a child who has been a victim of abuse."
The workshop, Dr Achakzai said, also stressed on theimportance of talking about child sexual abuse, and how to report such cases.
"At the end of the workshop we distributed some handbooksabout child sexual abuse and some frequently asked questions regarding theissue."
Aagosh is planning to conduct more such workshops withcaregivers to impart basic sex education.
"Apart from our online as well as on ground campaign, everymonth we are planning to target schools. Next month we are hoping to conduct aworkshop in a school in Pulwama," Dr Achakzai said.