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Draft Minutes of Inception Workshop of IMA - UNICEF Project on Prevention of and Response to Child Sexual Abuse

Draft Minutes of Inception Workshop of IMA - UNICEF Project on Prevention of and Response to Child Sexual Abuse

IMA House, New Delhi

16th April, 2016, 10.30 AM – 4.00 PM

The second phase of the IMA - UNICEF Project on Prevention of and Response to Child Sexual Abuse was flagged off with an Inception Workshop on Saturday, 16.04.2016. The idea behind this planning meeting was to give representatives of different stakeholder groups an opportunity to interact with each other and come up with suggestions on key messages and steps that may be taken to create awareness of the subject in their own sectors as well as amongst the general public. This in turn will inform the design of Project activities.

The following members were present:- Dr S S Agarwal, National President, IMA, Dr  K K Aggarwal, Honorary Secretary General, IMA, Dr R N Tandon, Honorary Finance Secretary, IMA,  Dr V K Monga, Dean, IMA CGP; Ms. Radhika Dayal, Ms. Divya Pillai, and Mr Vikas Choudhary, all from the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI); Dr N. Jagdeeshan, Dr. Rajiv Seth,­­­­­ Dr. Sandhya Khadse, Ms. Vidya Reddy of Tulir and Ms. Hamsa Vijayaraghavan, Project Coordinator.

The Workshop commenced with the customary IMA ceremonial adornment of IMA President Dr. S.S. Aggarwal with the Presidential Medallion at the hands of  Honorary Secretary General, IMA, Dr K K Aggarwal, who then requested the members present to stand up for the IMA Prayer followed by the Flag Salutation.

 Dr S S Agarwal, National President, IMA then welcomed all present at the meeting and reaffirmed IMA’s commitment to the issue of ending sexual violence against children. Dr K K Aggarwal, then took charge and mentioned the importance of addressing the issue of CSA, saying that last year the CMAAO meeting was devoted to CSA given the urgency of the issue. He informed the group that IMA had been declared as the Nodal agency for all the CMAAO Countries, and that if there were any problems they would be looking towards us. He indicate that IMA would shortly come out with a statement and pass a resolution in the CMAAO meeting at the international level.

He then gave a brief introduction to IMA, mentioning that it was the largest medical NGO in the world, with a membership of over 2.5 lakh doctors, 1700 local branches and 30 State branches.

 He then proposed that the Workshop culminate in the finalization of a “sutra” about CSA that could be used as a mantra to sensitise IMA’s 2.5 lac doctors on CSA. He suggested that the sutra should be restricted to one line, so that it could be used to spread awareness everywhere in meetings, seminars & workshops etc. He proposed that a sutra each be designed specifically for doctors, nurses and teachers. The group enthusiastically responded to this suggestion, and three sutras were accordingly finalized for dissemination to the above audience groups. These were as follows:

Child Sexual Abuse Sutra

Sexual Violence against children, a crime, is common and preventable, and whether evident or suspected, is an acute medico-legal emergency and punishable.

In this regard, the group had a detailed discussion of each term in the sutra, which, it was decided, would be made into a short note for circulation to IMA branches so that it could be include in their trainings and other programmes for doctors.

·         Child – a person between 0 and 16 years (IMA recommends)

·         Acute – to be given priority

·         MLE – report; preserve evidence, informed consent; informed refusal; documentation; police information; physical and mental health treatment (no requirement for police or court order), including prophylaxis and emergency contraception; preparedness to testify

·         Punishable – for the doctor who doesn’t treat/ report

·         Preventable – Age-appropriate anticipatory guidance, awareness, community responsibility

·         Common – irrespective of gender, class, socio-economic status; every child is vulnerable to being abused because we can’t tell who might be an abuser

·         Sexual abuse- involvement of the child in any sexual activity 

·         Evident /Suspected – Physical, emotional or behavioural symptoms

The following messages were also finalized for dissemination by IMA:

Message for teachers

Educators have a role and are duty-bound to address to stop sexual violence against children which is a crime, common and preventable and needs timely and appropriate intervention.

Message for Media

Sexual violence against children should be reported accurately, ethically, sensitively, non-sensationally and within the legal framework.

Message for IMA Members

IMA has a zero tolerance policy towards those health care providers who may be committing sexual violence, sex-selective abortions and/ or other unethical practices.

The group then discussed some core issues related to information to be disseminated on CSA. The first revolved around the definition of “child”, which in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, is defined as any person below18 years of age. Members of the group pointed out discrepancies across various laws regarding the age of consent, and suggested that given the practical context, 18 is too old to fix as the age of consent. It was agreed that IMA would advise that 16 be fixed as the age of consent, i.e. that doctors be advised to mandatorily report suspected or evident violence against a child to the police only where a child was 16 or below, rather than 18.

Dr. Aggarwal restated the importance of harnessing social media platforms to spread awareness on the issue. He pointed out that IMA could publicise its message through SMS, WhatsApp, audio, video, email, webinar pictorial, graphic and posters. He also suggested that the sutra could be endorsed by a celebrity and given wide publicity.

The next issue that was discussed was that of IMA Day against CSA, which had previously been fixed for 14th November. It was agreed that this would be moved to 19th November, World Day against Prevention of Child Abuse, on which seminars and sensitization programme on the issue would be organized by IMA branches across the country. The participants further suggested that all IMA branches be sensitized that any public messages issue by them not depict children in distress.

The meeting concluded with the understanding that study materials for doctors and nurses would be prepared and circulated to all members of the Expert Group at the earliest. Further, the experts committed to communicating their availability for the Workshops once dates were fixed and communicated.