A large number of children in India live a life where they face threats of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Many children are forced into child labor, to provide for their family and fulfill their basic needs. Having themselves been child laborers, Makeshwar, Rajesh, Kumud and Bhola Tanti created the organization Samagra Seva in 1999, with the intent to improve the socio-economic status in parts of India. Seeking to organize marginalized communities and unify them, the founders made it their mission to improve the quality of education for children as well.
Currently, Samagra Seva supports child survivors in five districts of Bihar – Jamiu, Lakhisarai, Bhagalpur, Munger, and Banka. The need for this work is clear, as while child sexual abuse (CSA) cases continue to increase, the number of cases that reach police stations are only about 5% of the number of total cases. Samagra Seva is working with families, schools, and communities to equip children with the necessary knowledge and tools to prevent violence against them, and report crimes of sexual violence. Additionally, children are now aware of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), and the existing legal support available to child survivors as they navigate the Criminal Justice System.
Over the past 3 months, a total of 2007 children across 39 schools have become sensitized on the issue of CSA, through multiple sessions conducted by Samagra Seva volunteers. Divyata, a volunteer from the Banka district shared, “My experience of conducting these sessions is that children are now clearly understanding the issue of CSA. The culture of “IZZAT” (honor), and silence around these issues make open, free interaction on this subject very difficult. Children are a bit shy and hesitant at the start, but after discussion, they start opening up slowly and talking. Some children have shared about child marriage within their neighborhood and communities. We also gave them the Childline number, which is a 24/7 helpline for children.”
As children are becoming more sensitized to the issue of CSA, their families are now reporting incidents, which have resulted in criminal cases being filed. Additionally, families are beginning to file requests for compensation. Samagra Seva is assisting them in both of these efforts. AID supports Samagra Seva in their mission. You can support AID by donating to us below: