World Health Organisation report on Child Abuse
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in every four girls and one in every seven boys in the world are sexually abused. But Lois J.
Engelbrecht, a researcher working on the problems of child sexual abuse, quotes studies showing that over 50 per cent of children in India are sexually abused, a rate that is higher than in any other country.
Mumbai-based journalist-writer Pinki Virani, for the first time openly came out with facts and figures on sexual child abuse in the year 2000 in her book Bitter Chocolate and broke silence to narrate her own experience
of abuse by an extended family member. Her work has also been staged as plays by theatre personality Lushin
Dubey. "Two institutions play a very important role in a Childs life when it comes to sexual abuse: there is protection and there is prosecution.
Protection is the job of the parent. Prosecution is the job of the state," Virani said in her book.
A girl abused in her childhood by her own family member
kept the secret to herself out of fear and shame and it was much later that she recalled the frightful incidents to her boarding school friends. But she was in for a
greater surprise: Most of her friends had been victims of some form of sexual abuse during their childhood and had kept it under the wraps,confiding only to their
mothers during times of crisis. Sadly, the mothers did all they could to avert the danger but precious little to bring the incidents out in the open.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill in India
In an attempt to protect children against sexual abuse, the cabinet on
Thursday, the 4th March 2011 cleared a first-of-its-kind legislation which threatens stringent action against the offenders.
Parliament on May 22, 2012 approved a bill to protect children below 18 from sexual abuse, set up special courts for
speedy trial of cases against them and provide stringent punishment extending up to life term for offenders. "The bill is gender
neutral. It seeks to protect children from sexual offences... the burden of proof will be on the accused," Women and Child
Development Minister Krishna Tirath said winding up the debate in
the Lok Sabha on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011.
The bill, which was earlier cleared by Rajya Sabha, was approved by the
Lower House by voice vote May 22, 2012. Ms Tirath said all below 18 years would be treated as children and
efforts have been made to keep provisions of the bill child-friendly. It
contains provisions for in-camera trial of offences, she said. Dismissing concerns over misuse of the law, Ms Tirath said, provisions
have also been made to deal with offences of false complaints.
Sexual abuse of children in India
Sexual abuse of children is a very real problem in India, and the situation is aided by the absence of effective legislation and the silence that surrounds the offence.
The definition of child abuse varies from country to country. Acts that result in physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect of
children fall under the purview of law in almost all developed nations. In India, child abuse exists in many forms, but the laws are still ambiguous and most children suffer in
silence. In India, which places a high premium on chastity of women and yet has the largest
number of child sex workers in the world, there is no single, specific definition of child abuse.
"Disbelief, denial and cover-up to preserve family reputation has made child
sexual abuse an invisible crime in India
On April 26, 2011, a nine-year-old girl was raped allegedly by her neighbour
thrice in ten days in west Delhi, police said on Monday.
The incident was reported from Nihal Vihar and the accused Dinesh
who was living on a floor above the victim's family house. arrested on Sunday, a senior police official said
More boys than girls face various forms of sexual abuse -
ranging from inappropriate touch, exposure to pornography or violent sexual assault.
"Disbelief, denial and cover-up to preserve
family reputation has made child sexual abuse an invisible crime in India. It seems there is an
official denial of the existence of the problem. In fact, child abuse in India is as old as the joint family system and patriarchy. Though the
problem is highly pervasive, there is pretence that it only inflicts the West. This also explains why there is no
framework in India to prevent such abuse and there has not been much data collection and research, says Dr Kaur.
High Court on child sexual abuse
Alarmed at the growing instances of child sexual abuse,
the Delhi High Court has called for a more stringent law for deterrence effect, on May 2, 2009 saying
the definition of rape under section 376 IPC should be made age and gender neutral.
Justice S Muralidhar was hearing the appeal of a man sentenced to two years
imprisonment for committing "digital rape'' (inserting finger in vagina) of a five-year-old girl. The judge was upset that
lack of a suitable law prevented the courts from inflicting the same punishment on him as that reserved for a rapist.
"The offence of a child sexual abuse is an extremely grave one. Innocent and tender children are abused sexually through
a variety of means, one if which is the present case. Such incidents leave a deep scar on the psyche of the child and has the
potential of adversely affecting the child's emotional and mental development. The harsh truth is that these incidents are more frequent than we
imagine and very often goes unpunished by the child suffering the trauma silently,'' the court observed, dismissing one Tara Dutt's appeal.
"Despite the report of Law Commission of India lying with the
government for over nine years and the Supreme Court in 2004 hoping that the Parliament would make appropriate changes, it is a matter
of grave concern that nothing has been done till date. The absence of a stringent law can only have the pernicious effect of crime
continuing undeterred,'' HC added, saying it was high time that definition
of rape was made "age and gender neutral" so that cases like Dutt's could be dealt with severely.
Child abuse study in India
The 'Study on Child abuse India 2007' conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development
acknowledges that child sex abuse takes place in schools - and how. One out of two children in schools have faced sexual abuse. And
overall , more boys than girls face various forms of sexual abuse - ranging from inappropriate touch, exposure to pornography or violent
sexual assault. "The abuser could be from the peer group
or an older student," says Dr Loveleen Kacker, Joint secretary (Child Welfare) in the Women and Child Development Ministry, who
prepared the government report. "Senior students often bring
pornographic material to school and may force a younger boy to look at it to titillate themselves.
During a study on child abuse in Kolkata, Elaan, an NGO, found that four
out of 10 boys faced sexual harassment in school. Generally the age of maximum abuse is between 9 to 12 years. The national study
found that the abuse gained momentum at the age of 10 and peaked between 12 to 15.
Child abuse is the physical or psychological maltreatment of a child by an adult
often synonymous with the term child maltreatment or the term child abuse and
neglect. There are many forms of abuse and neglect and many governments have developed
their own legal definition of what constitutes child maltreatment for the
purposes of removing a child and/or prosecuting a criminal charge. The report by the Department of Women and Child Development on the
implementation of the Convention of Child Rights in India, prepared for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, has identified
child sexual abuse as a priority issue for immediate action.
"Sexual abuse has immediate as well as long-term effects on the child, from emotional and
behavioral problems to abnormal sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders.
Suicidal tendencies and drug abuse are common long- term effects."
Belgian Catholic Church probe finds 475 sexual abuse of minors
A Belgian Catholic Church-backed commission published a report on September 10, 2010 revealing hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors
by clergy and church workers, and 13 suicides by abuse victims. The commission said it had received 475 complaints in the first six
months of this year from alleged victims or their families. Most were related to charges of sexual abuse committed between the 1950s
and the late 1980s by Catholic clergy, but also by teachers of religion and adults working with youth movements.
Child, Sex, Tourism
India has become one of the hottest child sex tourism destination . A report, Trafficking in Women and Children in India, sponsored
by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), highlights this, mentioning not just
Goa, which since the 1990s has uncovered rackets by Freddy Peats and Helmut Brinkmann, but also Alleppy and Ernakulam districts of
Kerala, where houseboat tourism has lately seen a boom.
But the reports finding tell only part of story. " The attention paedophiles are paying to India is preposterous,"
says Rakesh Gupta, a child rights activists. "They are
mentioning the Golden Triangle- Delhi, Agra aand Jaipur - in their anonymous blog posts."
In Kerala, "sex on the water" is the latest rage for
paedophiles. Most paedophiles heading for Kerala start in Delhi, where police estimates the existence of 10 cartels specialising in
child sex tourism. "With nearly a lakh homeless children in Capital, it's easy for paedophiles to come and expolit them"
says Dr Rajat Mitra, who heads Swanchetan, an NGO specialising rape trauma. In Mumbai, nearly 70,000 minors are abused yearly,
estimates Kusumbar Choudhury of Save the Children India.
Child Abuse Statistics
There are 5,00,000 children in prostitution, in India. More than 3 children die a day in the USA. Of the total number
of children who were killed in the USA, from 1976-1997, 54 percent were killed by a parent, 15 percent were killed by
strangers or unknown persons. There are over 15 million children in bonded labour, in India today. Twice as many girls than boys engaged in child
labour. 63% of girls in Delhi, have experienced child sexual abuse at the hands of a family member (Sakshi, 1997).
In a study of a 1000 girls from 5 different states in India, (Rahi, 1997), 50% of the girls said that they had been abused
when under 12 years of age, 35% had been abused between the ages of 12- 16 years of age. The average sex offender has 76
victims. (American data.) There are at least 18 million children living on the streets in India. In a number of joint
studies conducted by UNICEF and the Ministry of Labour, 75% of the children reported treatment
by staff as bad and 91.7% reported provisions of necessities as bad, Bangalore. In Mumbai 75.4 % reported bad treatment by staff and 53.2 reported that provisions were poor.
One million children are trafficked into prostitution, in Asia every year.
Dr. Preethi Menon says: "Sexual abuse has immediate as well as long-term effects on the child, from emotional and
behavioral problems to abnormal sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders. Suicidal tendencies and drug abuse are common long-term effects."
Male child sexual abuse victims at heart risk
Men who experience childhood sexual abuse are three times more likely
to have a heart attack as compared to
those who were not sexually abused as children, to a new study has suggested.
For the study, researchers from the University of Toronto examined gender-specific differences in a representative sample of 5095 men and
7768 women aged 18 and over, drawn from the Center for Disease Control's 2010 Behavioral Risk
Factor Surveillance Survey.
A total of 57 men and 154 women reported being sexually abused by
someone close to them before they turned 18 and 377 men and 285 women said that a doctor, nurse or other health professional had diagnosed
them with a heart attack or myocardial infarction. The study was co-authored by
four graduate students at the University of Toronto, Raluca Bejan, John Hunter , Tamara Grundland and Sarah
Brennenstuhl. "Men who reported they were sexually abused during childhood were
particularly vulnerable to having a heart attack later in life," lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson said.
Hazy Laws in India
In India till March 2011, there were no laws that cover child abuse in all its dimensions.
Lawyer IB Singh, however, feels the problem is not with the laws but with the law enforcing agencies. "The process is long drawn and
conviction rate negligible." he says. While law takes its course, the child suffers four times over - when the act is committed, while
narrating the incident, during medical examination and then, in court.
With boys, only proven sodomy is punishable offence- but other than that,
there is no clear definition of sexual abuse. The picture gets hazier when the act is committed by a child against a child. In that case,
the Juvenile Justice Act comes into force, and law is not clear to whom the victim reports.
Prevention can be focused at three levels. At the primary level, the focus can be on removing the causes, strengthening the child's competence to
recognize and react, increasing parental awareness, strengthening social vigilance, and bringing in effective and punitive penal policy. At
the secondary level, the emphasis should be on early detection, quick ntervention and provision of a supportive environment in schools and families. Tertiary intervention
should involve coordination among the police, courts, counselors, doctors and social workers.
A national level study on child abuse is being conducted to assess the extent and magnitude of the problem in
India. The study will gauge the different forms of abuse and examine the profile of the abused and exploited children
and their relationship with the perpetrator, according to official sources here. The issue of child abuse,
which has remained neglected so far, has been entrusted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to
Prayas, a non- government organisation (NGO) working on children's issues.
Prayas, which is conducting the year-long study starting September 2005, will recommend measures and strategies
for policy, legislations and programme development in this regard, the sources said. Based on the findings, the government will draw up
interventions to address the problem. In view of the expertise and experience of Prayas in the field, the NGO, on behalf of the ministry, had
organised on October 28-29 a workshop to train trainers or field officers who will undertake the nationwide study.
The effort is being funded by Save the Children and UNICEF.
Indian Parliament on
May 22, 2012 approved a bill to protect children below 18 from sexual abuse, set up special courts for speedy trial of
cases against them and provide stringent punishment extending up to life term for offenders.
Satyamev Jayate throws spotlight on child sex
TV episode of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ on May 13, 2012, Aamir Khan succeeded in moving hearts of millions of TV
viewers against child sex abuse.
The second episode saw the magnanimous personality raise the issue of
child sex abuse and even conducted a workshop for children to create awareness amongst children and their parents.
A number of sexually abused victims dared the society and peer pressure to discuss their childhood trauma and educate people about a possible
sexual exploitation of children in the society. One such victim, Harish Iyer from Mumbai spoke about his dreadful
childhood and how he was raped for over a number of years by his male
relative. He spoke about how he dealt with this traumatic happening and mustering courage on being inspired by veteran Sridevi, for as a child,
films were real events and at the end the good wins over the evil.
To Harish’s surprise, Aamir invited Sridevi to the sets of ‘Satyamev
Jayate’. The diva applauded Harish’s courage and determination and handed over a token of appreciation to him.
Aamir also mentioned about a bill on child sexual abuse that has been
introduced in the Parliament but is yet to be implemented. The people of
India must urge the government so that a law can be enforced at the earliest against the heinous crime.
He asked Sridevi to sign the letter addressed to the government in support of the bill.
On May 23, 2012 Amir Khan said he is very happy that his episode was successful and
he is really grateful to the Indian Parliament.