Skip to main content

Canada launches child sex abuse project in Gujarat, says it will not tolerate shrinking space for civil society

Deepak Obhrai with Utthan's Nafisa Barot
By Our Representative
A top Canadian representative, in Gujarat to attend the high-profile Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas and the Vibrant Gujarat business summit (January 7-12), has said that the Canadian government will not sit quiet if the space for civil society in India shrinks. “In case this happens, we will not hesitate to tell about this to the government”, said Canadian MP Deepak Obhrai, a Government of India invitee for the two top events. Also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, Canada, Obhrai added, “Human rights is a Canadian priority. We have pointed towards weak areas in India the spots at the UN Commission Human Rights.”
Awarded in 2009 the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, highest honour to an overseas Indian, Obhrai was answering questions from mediapersons on Canadian view of shrinking space of civil society in India under the Modi government, and what is Canada, a Commonwealth country like India, doing about it. He was in Ahmedabad to declare the release of a $23,000 Canada government-funded projecte on sexual exploitation of children, launched in Gujarat last month by state-based NGO Utthan. The project began close on the heels of a Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) report saying that 63 per cent of Gujarat girls have reported sexual abuse, highest in the country (click HERE to read).
Talking with newspersons about the project, an Utthan spokesperson said, the NGO has begun the project in the second half of last month in 100 villages of six districts in Gujarat -- Bhavnagar, Amreli, Dahod, Mahisagar, and Panchmahals. “An awareness campaign is on to tell communities about the need to understand sexual exploitation of children, both boys and girls, what it means to society, and how to fight against it”, the spokesperson said, adding, “We have found good response all over, with several schools, including private and government, wanting training programmes to be carried out about basic sex education with high school-going children.”
Utthan campaign in Vevera village, Amreli district
Utthan director Nafisa Barot said, during the campaign, the NGO found that, shockingly, the police or even the Justice Committees, operating under the auspices of community-based organizations, have not received any complaints about sexual abuse. “Child abuse is shrouded in secrecy. There is a conspiracy of silence around the entire subject. However, in personal talks, we found questions being raised about it. We hope people will slowly come out and speak following the campaign launched by us. We are compiling facts on sexual exploitation of children. So far, however, nobody is wanting to speak out openly against it”, Barot said.
Apart from communities, the programme involved providing training to teachers about sexual abuse of children. “In all, 90 teachers have taken part in special workshops we organized for them. During our campaigns, there were also voices about teachers being culprit in sexual abuse”, the Utthan spokesperson said. Asked why was Canada interested in funding the project in India, Obhrai explained, “We are supporting the fight against early marriage, abortion without consent, child sex exploitation, sexual violence and such other issues around the world. The problems are universal, and we believe in working with government and NGOs on these.”
An official release on the Canada-supported project said, “Utthan’s project aims to raise awareness and sensitivity about child sexual violence and exploitation, including breaking the stigma about rape and abuse of victims across 100 villages in coastal and tribal districts of Gujarat. This will be supported and sustained through the mobilization of a cadre of local leaders including doctors, teachers, police, panchayats and parents.”
It added, “Through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), Canada provides small amounts of funding to local non-governmental organizations and community groups worldwide. In India, Canada is working with local communities and governments to address sexual violence, women and girl’s empowerment and other grassroots needs.”

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.