August 6, 2019
The Aram Foundation Charitable Trust is among the many institutions working for the cause of women and children in Coimbatore and some other districts. A significant part of its work has been the ‘safe touch’ awareness workshops in nearly 100 corporation and government schools in Coimbatore for seven years.
Latha Sundaram, the managing trustee, tells The Covai Post, “There is no good or bad touch anymore. The word ‘touch’ has been outlawed by Indian Parliament as all touch is unsafe unless certified.
“It is a very sensitive issue and we conduct workshops accordingly. So we have separate workshops for different age groups— one to five, five to eight, eight to twelve, college girls, working women and housewives.
“The awareness levels of each group is different, we cannot panic children. We usually begin by explaining their private parts which nobody should touch. We make them understand whom to trust, 99% trust their mother. If they feel any unwanted or sexual touch we advise them to refuse, run or tell their most trusted person which could be mother, father, sibling or friend. Usually adult molesters do not chase children.”
The Aram Trust conducts workshops in batches of thirty with pictures, charts, skits and gentle Q&A sessions. “Some of the children start crying, because they had been so afraid to admit. Often children blame themselves for the assault. Some abusers could be their close relatives.
“We teach them how cunning molesters can be with praise, gifts and psychological cajoling. Parents should also regularly check their children’s daily caretakers like neighbours, auto drivers, school helpers, teachers and nannies. Parental responsibility is important,” says Latha.
Parents are also advised to accompany their children for any physical or medical examination and expose only the affected body parts.
The trust also guides college going girls and working women on self-defence, alertness for dealing with harassment in public transport or in office and how to deal such situations.
“We have about 4-5 trained professionals, either psychologists or social workers, to conduct these workshops. We form informal groups in the class for an easy atmosphere. We also have tie-ups with Robert Bosch Industries, HCL Technologies and Propel Industry who sponsor some of the workshops,” said Latha.
The Prevention of Children from Sexual Offenses (POSCO) act of 2012 has inspired many social organisations like Aram Trust to prevent paedophilic acts in society.