Muskaan's History

Muskaan was set up in 2000 in Pune as A Campaign Against Child Sexual Abuse comprising of individual volunteers and a group of NGOs including Aalochana, Bapu Trust, Tathapi, MASUM and The Special Cell for Women and Children attached to the Office of the Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch.

In October, 2000, the Media Cell of SNDT Women’s College, Pune and Aalochana Centre for Documentation and Research on Women, based in Pune, jointly screened Grace Poore’s documentary, ‘The Children We Sacrifice’. The director was present and a discussion followed the screening. People from diverse backgrounds attended it such as members of child rights and women’s rights groups, social workers, counsellors, doctors, media personnel, lawyers, teachers, students and parents. This was followed by a second screening for women’s groups, social activists and academics at Aalochana where the need was reiterated for a new group to deal with child sexual abuse (CSA). This was the genesis of Muskaan as a campaign, housed and supported by Aalochana.

Muskaan took up the issue of sexual abuse of children by known, trusted adults as opposed to child trafficking or child marriage which also involve sexual abuse of minors. Our main activity was focused on creating awareness about:

  • The spectrum of behaviour that constitutes abuse;
  • Myths like all abusers are perverts, children are safe inside their homes, abuse happens only in certain classes and cultures, children will forget about the abuse, boys don’t get abused etc;
  • Socio-cultural and gender norms that facilitate and condone abuse of children especially girls by men
  • Looking for physical or behavioral symptoms in the child that may point to abuse
  • Devising prevention strategies with the help of adults and children themselves
  • Importance of supporting the child to help him/her recover from the trauma
  • The need to punish the abuser and challenge the culture of impunity

From 2000 to 2006 Muskaan carried on its work with administrative, personnel and ideological support from Aalochana. Students of law, sociology and social work joined the campaign as volunteers.

Our awareness work resulted in CSA cases coming to us, which we attempted to resolve with counseling by our team members and quasi-legal help from the Special Cell for Women and Children. In 2006 the word ‘campaign’ was dropped as it was no longer appropriate to our mode of functioning.


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