Srinagar, July26: One-day while skimming through the pages of a newspaper, Mir Nadiya came across the news of a child sexual abuse in Kashmir. She was shaken by the piece and pondered over it for days.
An urge to do something about it took her to her friend's place where the two discussed the issue threadbare.
"I wanted to elevate this issue to a level where everyone would know about it."
Mir Nadiya, 21 from Budgam district, has been working upon many social issues since 2019 but after reading that news she felt a calling from inside her.
The final year Mechanical Engineering student of who was pursuing her degree from the University in Chandigarh had ample time to learn more about child sexual abuse after she returned home in lockdown.
"I read a lot about it. I even talked with experts in order to learn about the behaviour, issues and counseling regarding the issue. I tried to reach to the core of the issue," she said.
After she felt she was ready, she started the initiative 'Not Afraid' with her friend Auqib Mir.
They devised the strategy and identified areas that needed immediate attention.
"We formulated a booklet and began our preparations. The booklet had all the knowledge about child sexual abuse and our contact details."
Their first destination was a high school in Yusmarg, a far flung area in Budgam district. They had talked to the principal of the school in advance and wanted to focus more on mothers of children.
"We took mothers into consideration because if a mother is aware, she will automatically pass on the knowledge to her children. We witnessed a good crowd there."
The duo distributed the booklet among children and was lauded for their efforts by the school authority.
To Nadiya's surprise, she began to receive the calls from day one.
"Many girls came up with their complaints. Mothers called to know more about this abuse for most of them had no idea about it, at all."
She also started visiting orphanages so that they are not left out.
"My focus is children. I make sure that I visit all the places which have the presence of children."
So far Nadiya has carried out almost 10 such awareness camps.
"Her focus is on both the genders- girls and boys. I have even received many calls from boys. I sometimes get surprised when they tell me how their parents react to such complaints."
According to Nadiya, parents of boys need more counseling as they are so ignorant to the abuse that they neither accept it nor consider it an issue."
"Once a boy came to me, with a sexual abuse complaint, whose family had told him that he was not a man enough to deal with the situation. Such is the psyche of our society."
Nadiya advises, "Parents should never ignore such complaints. They should come in support of their children, not wave it off."
Recently Nadiya has done a course in self-defense from Chandigarh so that she can train the children back in Kashmir.
"I am very soon coming up with a training centre so that children would know how to save themselves in case of an untoward situation."
She is planning to carry out more sessions with mothers in Aaganwadi centres of Budgam so that they know about the issue.
She has received good support from district administration and police in carrying out awareness camps.
"This is just the beginning. I have a lot of work to do. This issue needs more attention and many areas to cover."
Right now she is also conducting live sessions about child sexual abuse with the experts through her Instagram account.