“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul Than the way in which it treats its children.”
— Nelson Mandela
Children are the future of our society, still, they remain the most vulnerable citizens in our nation. Despite major protection laws in India, Child Abuse remains one of the most aggravated, yet neglected crime in the country.
Every second child faces abuse in some of the other forms – whether it be physical, psychological, sexual, or neglect.
Taking a step forward to help spread awareness about this, Simran Bhaskar — a 4th-year B.A, L.L.B student of UPES, Dehradun along with her friend Vrinda Singh — a 3rd-year Political science student recently co-founded ‘Project Blue Ribbon’.
Project Blue Ribbon aims at spreading awareness about Child Abuse, helping them raise their voice, thereby protecting their rights.
They have done a lot of national as well as international collaborations that have helped them spread the word.
Simran and her co-founder Vrinda highlight the major obstacle they face is making the victims speak up since the parents want to keep such matters confined to the four walls of the house.
At such an early age, Simran and Vrinda manage it well without compromising with their academics. Both of them seek inspiration from their mothers who manage household chores along with their professional lives.
In an exclusive interview with DehradunTales, Simran mentioned:
“As we are gradually calling us modern I believe it’s time to think like a modern society as well. Wearing modern clothes and using modern gadgets won’t help us in any way. It’s time to think rationally.’
DehradunTales congratulates both of them for the initiative and wishes them all the luck and success in the future.
Full Interview of Simran, Founder of Project Blue Ribbon
Q. Before going into the details of Project Blue Ribbon, please tell us about yourself.
I am a 4th year B.A. LL.B. student (specialization in Energy Law) from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies(UPES), Dehradun.
My interests include reading about the myriad aspects of law and philosophy. I actively write on topics related to Mental Health, Woman Rights, and different contemporary issues of Law in various journals.
I hold many awards for my legal research writings such as Legal Service India Award for Outstanding Legal Research Work and 2nd Prize in 4th Research Writing Competition by Supremo Amicus.
I believe this platform will help people to raise their voices against child abuse and give them the courage to share about the types of abuse they have endured during their childhood and how it affected them during different stages of their lives. Child Abuse is a global issue and it is high time we stand together to end such practices.
Q. Tell us about Project Blue Ribbon and what it is all about?
Project Blue Ribbon is a youth led organization that aims to raise awareness on Child Maltreatment.
This project supports child rights, raises awareness against child abuse, and aims to construct a world where the rights of the children are protected and honoured in a society which is built on dignity, justice, and equality.
Through the works of this organization we will try to enable a sense of responsibility amongst the people for the betterment of such children and together put an end to violence, abuse, maltreatment and exploitation of children.
Vrinda and I saw a dream of making a platform where we can raise awareness on different types of abuses that a child faces.
We want people to speak about it, share their experiences with us and encourage others to speak about it. Child Abuse is a global issue and it is high time we stand together to end such practices.
Q. How did you conceive the idea of working against Child Maltreatment and did you face any struggle at the initial level?
I was watching the news with family one day and we saw a mother based in the USA posted a tweet with a screenshot of a picture of her 3-month-old baby on a porn site. The mother was in shock to see all the people who’ve commented such harsh words for her baby.
At that very moment, I called Vrinda, told her everything and we decided to create a platform where we can raise such awareness and encourage people to talk about their experiences and how such abuses have haunted them throughout their lives.
With the help of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn we got in touch with some like-minded youngsters, made a team and started our Project Blue Ribbon.
The struggle that we faced was, people were not ready to talk about their experiences. They felt shy about how their parents and society would react if they would know.
We met so many people who were afraid to even acknowledge that they were emotionally or sexually abused. One more thing we faced was that parents were not ready to hear the story of their children.
Some of them did hear but they shushed them,saying “Kisi ko bolne ki zaroorat nahi warna samaajh me izzat nahi rahegi.” This is the most common line a person hears when they try to discuss such things with their parents.
We feel that until and unless parents support their children, we cannot expect the society to help them.
Q. According to you, what is the root cause of the prevalent child abuse in the society and your views on different kinds of child abuses?
The root cause of child abuse is that there are no awareness programs. Sex-education is a very controversial topic in India and we need to talk about it more.
We should have programs where children are taught what a good or a bad touch is. We need them to understand that no person can touch you in certain parts of your body without your permission and if they do, you should scream and talk to your parents.
We need to make parents understand that they need to talk to their children and always have a friendly attitude towards towards them, where the children can freely talk to them about anything.
I also believe there are a lot of laws which protects children such as the POSCO Act, 2012 which gives detailed information about the punishments and unlawful activities with respect to children but when it comes to implementation, our government lacks.
There are different types of child abuse such as physical abuses which means hurting or harming a child on purpose such as slapping, burning, scratching etc; there is emotional abuse which involves emotional mistreatment of a child such as isolation, ignoring, criticizing etc; there is sexual abuse which most prevalent these days which involves sexually abusing a child by tricking or forcing them into sexual activities.
The last is child trafficking in which children are tricked or forced into activities which are illegal such as trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Q. In a country like India, what measures would you suggest in order to tackle such an issue?
As we are gradually calling ourselves modern, I believe it’s time to think like a modern society as well. Wearing modern clothes and using modern gadgets won’t help us in any way. It’s time to think rationally.
The first measure one can take tackle such an issue is to SPEAK UP. You should talk to your parents and reach out to them for help, always trust your instinct.
I would request all the parents to please take time from your busy schedule and get involved in your children’s lives- ask them how their day was, these small gestures will help your children to open up to you.
I request all the parents or parents-to-be to trust their children, support them and stop over-thinking what the neighbours or society will say. Stand with your children. At the end of the day, they need their parent’s shoulder to cry on.
Q. How do you manage the organisation along with your studies?
I am trying my level best to do that. I have made schedules for my online classes, assignments and projects. I try to adhere to schedule strictly and also try to spend some time with family.
So far, I am happy with everything as it is and hope it works in the future as well.
Q. Have you collaborated with any national or international human rights activists or organisations?
Yes, we have collaborated with “Donate a Smile Foundation” recently and will be collaborating with many more in a few months.
In October, we are fully packed with webinars with International Human Right Activists and many International and National collaborations.
Q. How is the response from society at large?
We are getting a positive response from all over the world in such a short time. We got so many features on different pages and are getting many offers from collaborations and events.
I really hope that people support us and start raising their voice against child maltreatment.
Q. What could be our contribution at the individual level and at the level of the policymakers/government to curb this issue?
At the individual level, we can raise awareness on a different social media platform and we can share people’s stories and make people understand what implications a child abuse victims faces in their life.
I want to request the government to please make Health and Wellness Curriculum (also known as sex- education) mandatory in all schools because every child should know the difference between a right and a wrong touch.
Also, I want to request the government to implement these law a bit more strictly so that no can ever think of doing any kind of wrong to anyone, especially children.
Q. What are your immediate future plans and where do you see yourself 10 years down the line?
I am not ‘future-planning’ type of person. I believe in living in the present.
But soon, we are planning to launch our website where people can write blogs and share their stories with us.
I don’t know what future holds for me in 10 years, but I want to be independent and I pray that I am able to provide my parents with a lavish life.
Q. Who is your role model or source of inspiration and what is their contribution to your journey?
My mother, Dr. (Mrs) Rekha Vaisya is my role model, my constant support and inspiration. She is an Academic Director at Salt Lake Shiksha Niketan, Kolkata, West Bengal.
The ways she manages the school, and our house is commendable. If I ever achieve 20% of what she is, my life will be fulfilled.
Q. Your message to the readers of DehradunTales?
I request all the readers of DehradunTales to support us and raise their voices against child abuse. If you want to talk to us or want to share your story with us please check out our Instagram page @project.blue.ribbon.