RAHI Foundation - October Posting

Suparna Kudesia
Posted October 21, 2012 from India

Dear Partners and Allies,

Our sincere apologies in the delay to submit our post. Here are some sharings we have compiled and some questions that follow.

Recovering and Healing from Incest (RAHI) Foundation began in the mid-90's in response to a large vacuum of work to respond to the needs of adult survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA) and incest. It's focus since then remains as pivotal to the dialog about prevention, training, counseling, advocacy, and empowerment till today. Today, RAHI Foundation is a pioneer as India's first incest/CSA response organization. We entered the conversation about the issue through the lens of survivors and looked at how sexual violations in childhood impact the lives of women and girls. We have learned from their stories about how CSA takes place and what needs to be done for prevention.

Nonetheless, given that RAHI exists in a social-cultural-political-economic global space, there are challenges we still continue to face that we would like to share and create a space for dialog with all of you on this forum:

a) Our experience at RAHI has been indicative of the phenomenon that individual healing and social change go hand-in-hand because survivors in recovery contribute to change. As change takes place, more survivors step in for help – so our healing work is located in the context of social change. We often experience, in the national and global contexts, that it is challenging for people to understand the relevance of our work and our focus on healing and the need to work with young adult survivors. The common response is - 'What is the point of working with someone after the abuse has stopped or so many years later, shouldn't you be working on prevention/with children instead?' Our questions to you are rooted in this - a) How do you organizations sustainably reinforce the focus of your work with adolescents and b) How do you respond to challenges of skepticism around directing your resources and organizational energies to this important demographic of young adolescent girls?

Many many thanks for your care and consideration in reading and responding to our questions.

With respect, -Suparna

Comments 1

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Gayatri Buragohain
Dec 05, 2012
Dec 05, 2012

Hi Suparna,

My response to skeptical people who ask you what is the point of working with someone after the abuse has already happened - If we were able to definitively predict when, where, with whom and by whom abuse is about to happen, we would all have been supermen and superwomen stopping every crime from happening. Different people and organizations work on prevention with children, but incidents still happen. And most often children do not speak out about the abuse that they faced till a long time, sometimes till they are adults. At our center, when we talk about sexual abuse, we have always noticed that the discussion is always using the 3rd person pronoun. Everyone is very careful about not spitting out what has happened with them. But when our team opens up with what happened with us when we were children, there is a sudden ease in the room. Many more personal stories start to come out. I for one, as someone who has seen CSA up and close from childhood and even experienced it in some level, believe that your work is very important.

Since FAT was just started and till date, many people have been skeptical about us and our mission. People feel that technology is not gendered, sometimes people working in grassroots say, first give education and then talk about technical education. We understand where they are coming from, and the fact that the relevance of technology on women's rights is not as easily understood as other women's issues like violence and right to basic education. But there is a huge connection which when explained in legth, people do understand. However, we cannot always give a lengthy explanation every time someone poses such a question. So we did a team meeting to figure out short yet convincing answers to frequently asked questions. We started using these answers every time we were asked any question. From time to time we even update out FAQs. We have put some of them in our website (though the latest updated version is not there. This reminds me I need to put it up there :)). May be you can also think of some thing like this?