Rubaroo, a Mumbai-based NGO aims to put the spotlight on child sexual abuse (VIDEO)

Rubaroo, a Mumbai-based NGO aims to put the spotlight on child sexual abuse (VIDEO)

Pooja PatelUpdated: Monday, June 10, 2024, 07:26 AM IST
article-image
Ishita Manek, co-founder and director, Rubaroo Breaking Silences Foundation |

Ishita Manek, co-founder and director of Rubaroo Breaking Silences Foundation, speaks of the impactful journey of the NGO that provides healing, awareness and support services to the victims of child sexual abuse and is dedicated to create safer environments for children.

A 2007 survey showed that one in every two Indian children had experienced sexual abuse before they turned 18. The National Crime Records Bureau report in 2020 said 28.9 per cent of the child population had experienced some sort of sexual crime. They are both worrying figures given that Indian children (around 440 million) make up 19 per cent of the world's child population.

In the face of these grim numbers, Ishita Manek and Lisha Chheda. co-founders and directors of the NGO Rubaroo Breaking Silences Foundation, try to break the silence around the issue of child sexual abuse (CSA).

Manek is a survivor herself, while Lisha is a mental health professional who wanted to overcome her struggle to engage with the subject by working on it directly. 

Rubaroo works with adults, which includes parents, teachers, staff, volunteers; and also with children directly in the capacity of awareness and prevention. They provide counselling services, where a team of 13 in-house highly trained trauma-informed counsellors take on cases to help victims overcome their trauma. “Apart from this we also train social workers and students who are studying psychology on how to handle CSA cases and spread awareness,” says Manek.  

One of their primary programmes includes awareness building for adult stakeholders including parents, social workers, psychologists, lawyers, etc. The reason, Manek says, is that a child’s safety is an adult's responsibility. “And the nature of the issue is such that all children are vulnerable and they cannot be expected to protect themselves. So the first step towards breaking the taboo and getting adults to respond to children in distress is to make them aware about the issue,” she explains. 

A session in progress by Rubaroo with school children

A session in progress by Rubaroo with school children |

Training equips adults to respond appropriately. “As part of our programme, we insist on having at least one parent present so that if the child has to complain, the parent is aware and can respond sensitively to the child. We also work with teachers, because children spend a lot of time in school. It’s really important that as first responders, teachers are also made aware about how to respond,” shares Chembur-based Manek.

Rubaroo’s sessions blend lessons on gender sensitivity, sex education, puberty, sexual and reproductive health and healthy relationships. Their programme for teachers helps establish more equitable classrooms, and safer environments for children. 

It is important to teach children the difference between bad touch and good touch

It is important to teach children the difference between bad touch and good touch |

“As part of our programmes we also cover these three topics because currently, our school systems are not mandating that education. It is so important for kids to understand what's happening with their bodies as they're growing up. This also reduces a lot of shame around topics. These things are taught to students of all genders together, because we believe that there shouldn't be segregation,” she shares. 

One very crucial part of the work is the legal aid that needs to be provided to the young victims. Rubaroo works with social workers to help them understand elements of the POCSO Act, so that when they're engaging in the field with casework, they're able to handle those cases sensitively. Additionally, lawyers and prosecutors are trained too and they are explained what kind of language they should use while cross-questioning young victims; and what kind of sensitivity will prevent the child from being re-traumatised.

Mayuri Bhasin, president of the Rotary Club of Bombay Pier, said Rubaroo’s work has given voice to children who are often silenced. “Ishita and Lisha are two qualified and intelligent women and they had the opportunities to pursue careers that would give them extremely comfortable lives, but they chose to pick paths that serve the society, which is commendable,” she said.   

Mayuri Bhasin, president, Rotary Club of Bombay Pier

Mayuri Bhasin, president, Rotary Club of Bombay Pier |

Rubaroo has partnered with over 100 organisations including urban and rural setups, 89 schools, and around 10 NGOs and similar community based partnerships. Since its inception, their work has reached over 35,000 children and over 20,000 adults of all age groups. 

RECENT STORIES

Eknath Shinde & Ajit Pawar Sulk On Sidelines

Eknath Shinde & Ajit Pawar Sulk On Sidelines

Rubaroo, a Mumbai-based NGO aims to put the spotlight on child sexual abuse (VIDEO)

Rubaroo, a Mumbai-based NGO aims to put the spotlight on child sexual abuse (VIDEO)

Aabid Surti, a 90-year-old man saves 30 million litres of water by fixing leaky taps (VIDEO)

Aabid Surti, a 90-year-old man saves 30 million litres of water by fixing leaky taps (VIDEO)

Meet Monisha Narke, The Woman Who Converts Trash Into Treasure (VIDEO)

Meet Monisha Narke, The Woman Who Converts Trash Into Treasure (VIDEO)

Showing The Way For Visually Challenged People; Parimala Bhat, Founder, Snehankit Helpline

Showing The Way For Visually Challenged People; Parimala Bhat, Founder, Snehankit Helpline