Reaching out to society to address gender and sexuality issues, Enfold India lays special emphasis on cases of child sexual abuse. The non-profit organisation has been trying to tackle all possible issues revolving around child sexual abuse cases through education, training, research, advocacy and support.
Established in November 2001 by renowned gynaecologists Dr Sangeeta Saksena and Dr Shaibya Saldanha, the Enfold Proactive Health Trust aims to improve adolescent and child healthcare across verticals. The duo, then Associate Professors in the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St John's Medical College, was dismayed at the occurrence of preventable health problems in younger age groups. As they delved deeper, they discovered that most of the children were victims of sexual abuse and were deeply impacted. This pushed them to leave behind their medical college jobs to work for those in need.
Based in Koramangala, the not-for-profit organisation has developed age-appropriate, value-based personal safety education programmes that have been extensively researched and refined over two decades. Enfold enables children to recognise, resist and report sexual abuse to parents. It also sensitises teachers and parents to be supportive of their students/wards opening up to them. The team reaches out to an average of 75 schools per year to provide sessions on adolescence and human sexuality to provide children a safety net against sexual abuse.
According to the data from the NGO, it has educated over 1,65,000 students and more than 2,500 teachers at schools and colleges in and around the state and other cities, including Hyderabad, Pune, Ludhiana, Coimbatore, Dehra Dun, Shillong, Gurgaon and New Delhi.
The head of Policy and Community Integration at Enfold, Kushi Kushalappa, told Deccan Chronicle that the initial roadblock while approaching institutions to hold such sessions has become better over time. "In the early 2000s, not many were open to the concept of personal safety and life skills education in schools. The response was always that it was better to keep children and youngsters in the dark rather than equip them with information as many feared a discussion on the topic would encourage them towards 'wrong practices' then," she said.
Situations have evolved and the team now directly reaches out to school students from grade one. The sessions start with empowering the children to be there for themselves rather than replace that self-reliability and responsibility with technology. "We believe that empowering children to recognise, resist and report any form of sexual abuse is better than use of technology like CCTV cameras and other advancements," Ms Kushalappa said.
The team also trains teachers and facilitators who interact with kindergarteners on how to communicate and interact with these small children in a child-friendly, safe and secure way.
With the prevention of any kind of sexual abuse as their basic motto, Enfold India interacts with adults at corporate houses, to teach them how to prevent sexual harassment at workplaces. In return, Enfold seeks the help of corporates to increase their reach and rehabilitation initiatives.
With more than 20 individuals, the team is expert in counselling, advocacy, programme development through research, bridging CSR funds from corporates to the needy and forming a comprehensive good health perspective for the people.
To turn more youngsters into facilitators to interact with children, a course on human sexuality and personal safety is also offered at selected institutions. A postgraduate and undergraduate diploma programme offered in Life Skills, Sexuality and Reproductive Health at Christ (Deemed to be University) is one such initiative by the NGO.
The team also works with the government and other agencies to create more safe spaces for children....