In 1995 Vikas Adhyayan Kendra (VAK) in association with INSAF conducted a study on ‘Children at Risk in Goa’. The outcome of this study was the initiation of a child rights programme catering to children who were identified as being vulnerable.
CRG began non-formal education centres which were to serve as grievance cells where children could express the problems faced by them. CRG also realised the vulnerability of formal school children and developed modules for conducting a rights awareness and safety education programme for schools. CRG now has a full-fledged Child Empowerment Programme.
Children’s Rights in Goa (CRG) is the first organisation in India to develop a coordinated community response against tourism related child sexual exploitation (TCSE) also referred to as travelling sex offenders (TSOs). Its STOP PAEDOPHILIA campaign was developed in November 2000. In 2001 See the Evil – A study on tourism related paedophilia, researched by CRG staff member, Dr Nishtha Desai was published. This provided an understanding on the nature of the problem and recommended a programme of action. In 2004 a revised edition was published because of the constant requests made for more copies.
As a result of the campaign, awareness of tourism related child sexual exploitation has become widespread and the term ‘paedophilia’ is well known. Police handouts that were kept at the airport counters for incoming tourists to read carried a warning that sex with a child is considered a serious offence. The tourism brochures brought out by the Directorate of Tourism also states that sex with a child is punishable under the Goa Children’s Act. The Goa University has introduced tourism related paedophilia as a subject under the sociology curriculum for Second Year Bachelors Degree students. This shows that academia also considers this a social problem.
As a result of the awareness created through CRG’s campaign and the sessions it conducts in schools it receives numerous calls for assistance in cases of abuse within the community. In 2004 the Goa Police set up the Women and Child Protection Unit. Since the setting up of this unit the police asked CRG to assist with numerous cases of child abuse. In response to the need to assist child victims CRG set up a rudimentary Child Protection Cell (CPC) which functioned from April 2006 to March 2009. CRG saw this as a stop-gap measure till the State set up Victims’ Assistance Units under the Goa Children’s Act. CRG still assists children when approached by the community, the child’s parents or the child, but its focus is on preventing abuse.