Megha Bhatia, founder of Our Voix, a youth leadership organization that aims to prevent children from sexual abuse and make this world a better place by being there for those who need help. Winner of the prestigious India Volunteer Award 2019 and National Youth Icon Award 2019, she strives to empower children in a friendly manner and make their childhood a safe experience. It was never so easy for her to raise their hands to help sexually abused children in the world.
During the final year of her law college, Megha was dealing with rape cases of young children for two months. Hearing a lot of stories of survivors send chills down her spine. The notion of helping these little souls illuminated her, but she was aware that being a student lacked the necessary skills. Hence, she decided to pursue human rights from University College London. She campaigned for the rights of children in the United Kingdom on issues such as the Yemen Crisis, Syrian crises, etc. The utter need to end violence against children ignited a zeal in her to help the little souls. During the end days of her LLM specialization in Human Rights, when people were applying for jobs and choosing a corporate career, Megha came up with the idea of Our Voix. For Megha, doing a corporate job and making money like robots, was not the purpose of life. She always wanted to help people.
“I am happy I never listened to them, If I would have, I would have not been able to save so many lives. I followed my heart and I decided to start an organization and develop a program to help children to be empowered, identify abuses, and raise their voice against it.” – Said Megha Bhatia
After coming back to India, she started building a team of lawyers, psychologists, teachers, students, etc. Initially taking permission from the schools to conduct workshops was a task, but they wouldn’t agree, sometimes allowing them to conduct the workshop for only girls. Then making the parents understand the issue and explaining to them the magnitude was another hurdle faced by her team.
“Giving sex education to children in India is something people don’t want to talk about. Parents were hesitant, they used to say “Things like this do not happen in our society.” They were ignorant of the fact that in cases of Child Sexual Abuse 90% cases the culprit is a known person.”
After facing tons of challenges at organizational levels while pitching the ideas to conduct such sensitive workshops, Megha & her team have successfully helped thousands of children to start a new life.
“She quoted one incident while she was conducting a workshop at an orphanage, and the person in charge told her not to mention the child helpline number because the kids might call them. But if a child does call, there must be a reason which cannot be overlooked. Another such instance took place at a school where the principal of a school told her that they could teach the girls, but not the boys because it must not happen to them, which is incorrect. It happens to boys more often. Some people even said that devoting half an hour to such an event would affect the kids’ studies adversely. However, what they fail to understand is that it is unreasonable to expect a child who is being harassed to focus on studies since the kid is in trauma” – says Megha
Several times, after having workshops with children, they open up and confront the volunteers that he/she had been sexually harassed. The psychologist working with their team provide proper counseling to the victim. Megha’s team not only aims to handle the victims of sexual harassment, but they also believe in taking legal actions against the culprits, so they report the instance to the police and the child helpline number – 1098.
Megha’s dreams to reach different states and have a global presence to become a one-stop center for all information related to abuse. They also want to engage youth from different countries to initiate campaigns, so that the knowledge of safety needs reaches out to every single child.
Megha & her team has trained more than 14,500 young children on prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, trained many teachers to prevent abuse, and has expanded its volunteer base to London, USA, and Canada. From taking permission from schools to now schools inviting them to conduct these workshops was a great journey, full of hardships and struggle. They have traveled a long way, from children not raising their voice, to children teaching other peers about the issue had been a beautiful and challenging journey. It became a reality through a chain of volunteers and team members who worked for the cause selflessly day and night.
Concluding this story by quoting a few words shows the Harsh reality of our society.
“You took away my innocence but you can never take away my spirit to survive”.