While all along we believe that girls suffer majorly in child abuse, it was shocking to find that 60 per cent of boys undergo the trauma,” says S Shanmugavel, President, RAC Madurai North, RID 3000. His team is actively educating schoolchildren across the town on various forms of child abuse. The club has joined hands with an NGO called Ayudha Siragugal to visit schools and raise awareness on the subject among boys and girls upto Class V. They have completed ten schools so far and are still on the job, the awareness campaign being a year-long project.
It is a two-fold programme, explains Shanmugavel. “We address students and teachers separately. For children we teach the basics including the good touch-bad touch, the five-finger rule and tips to safeguard themselves against such attacks and educate them on the Child Helpline: 1098. The teachers are taught to identify victims and counsel them in an hour-long session.”
Through a drawing and painting exercise, the team had identified two children studying in a government school who were sexually victimised. The children were asked to draw what they liked the most and what they feared the most and this gave them insight, say Shanmugavel. Subsequently, these children are being counselled with the help of their teachers.
The NGO provides the resource persons, “most of whom have been abused in some way when they were young. So they know the subject like the back of their hand and are able to shed light in a striking manner,” says the president.
Seed ball bombing is yet another passionate activity of the club. The Rotaractors recently made and sowed 3,500 seed balls on open fields on the Madurai-Natham road. “It was a combination of fun and service as we drove on our bikes just before the monsoon and engaged in the greening activity.”
The district Rotaractors initiated the idea for an exclusive toilet for transgenders and it was given shape with support from Rotary Clubs of Dindigul Queencity and Tirupur — one such toilet was installed near the Dindigul Bus Stand. More such dedicated toilets are being planned across the eight revenue districts, says DRR R Lokesh Kumar. “We have got feedback from transgenders with request for more such facilities in other places and we intend to give them dignity,” he adds.