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  World Health Organisation report on Child Abuse

   Rape victim

  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: 

  Child sexual abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic

The United Nations chief condemned "appalling allegations" of child sexual abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic while meeting with worried countries that included two of the world body's top funders. Also on Friday, the ambassador for the United States, by far the U.N.'s top contributing country, welcomed a new external review into how the allegations were handled. Confidential documents have shown that the U.N.'s top human rights officials did not follow up for more than half a year on allegations collected by their own staffers, while French authorities pressed for more information. France opened a formal judicial inquiry just last month.

  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

  Child sexual abuse   is one of the worst perils that India is facing today. The rape of a six-year-old child in school premises on July 17, 2014 in Bangalore is just an example which has thrown open a can of worms. The rape of a six-year-old child in Vibgyor High School in East Bangalore, has brought back the focus on child sexual abuse. In India, this issue has been long ignored.

Also on January 21, 2012 the Bangalore police arrested Paul Francis Meekan, the headmaster of the Trio World School in Kodigehalli, on charges of sexually abusing a school boy, according to a news report in The Telegraph.

On April 19, 2014: A security guard sexually abused a seven-year-old girl in Marathahalli. Raju (28), from Assam, took her out of a building on the pretext of buying her chocolates.

On November 6, 2013: A 13-year-old girl was allegedly raped repeatedly by Ashwin Tabrekar, a software engineer from Hulimavu. She was his wifeís niece.

More boys than girls face various forms of sexual abuse - ranging from inappropriate touch, exposure to pornography or violent sexual assault. 

  "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." 

 A study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007 reported that two out of three children face physical abuse, and 42 per cent of children face sexual abuse in some form. According to Asian Centre for Human Rights, number of reported child rapes had gone up from 2,113 in 2001 to 7,112 in 2011.

  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. 


   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. 

  Nirbhaya documentary row

 Rape incidents are not new to India but the heinous crime that took place on a moving bus in Delhi on the accursed night of December 16, 2012 changed the way Indians perceive the crime. Not just in India, the incident horrified and unnerved people across the world. At the time when the victim of the gang-rape was fighting for her life, countless prayers by millions across the world were made. She is no more today, but her memories live on.

Braving the cold, millions of students, activists and people from all walks of life filled the streets of Delhi in protest against the incident that had sent chills down their spines. It was unprecedented for a country to witness protests of such magnitude for a rape victimís plight. People were angry and the government was nervous.

The crime kicked off a debate about women's treatment in the Indian society and led to the introduction of tougher punishments for sexual abuse.

Barred by law from revealing the identity of the victim, the media famously named the victim `Nirbhaya` (fearless).

Two years after the incident, a documentary by a foreign journalist on the incident has stirred up a hornetsí nest when it showed one of the rape accused blaming the victim for the incident. The BBC4 film by Leslee Udwin has been banned in India but premiered in the UK..


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