Stains on Childhood – An Overview of Child Sexual Abuse

By | November 7, 2017
Child Sexual Abuse

Last Updated :

Andheri school abuse case: Child rights panel to look into police investigation” – June 12th, 2017, Hindustan Times.


Madurai child sexual abuse horror: IPS officer recounts how she gathered proof against headmaster” – September 21st, 2017, The News Minute.


Kerala pastor gets 40 years of rigorous imprisonment for sexual abuse of minor ’’ – March 2nd, 2016, Web DNA.


UP woman ends 4 years of sexual abuse by father by filming proof ’’ – March 20th, 2016, Hindustan times


Six-year-old UKG student raped on school premises in Dewas” – February 26th, 2016 TOI.


In a case, State v Bahu Valve[1]. Where the father, 46 years old, raped his 13-year-old daughter and as a result, the girl delivered a baby girl. The court awarded him life imprisonment and fine of Rupees 1,00,000 in default of which he had to undergo 3 years of imprisonment.

As seen in the few recent cases of child sex abuse the children are been abused by the persons they trust the most i.e. Father, teacher, pastor where a child is expected to be in the safest hands. I guess the safest hands aren’t the safe anymore.

In 1988, a national seminar on child abuse[2] in India recognized the need for defining afresh the term ‘child abuse’ in the Indian context. The committee concerned evolved the following definition.


“Child abuse and neglect is the international, non-accidental injury, maltreatment of children by parents, caretakers, employers or others including those individuals representing government/non-government bodies which may lead to temporary or permanent impairment of their physical, mental, psycho-social development, disability or death”.


Child sexual abuse is a rampant issue in the country which is most challenging problem to solve as most people won’t come out because of the fear of the abuser and even if a child comes and speaks about it to his family, most of them won’t pay any heed to it and trash it as child is making up some stories and also some people cover it up to protect their family relations.

Even if the child has come out of the phase, it would haunt him for rest of their life and the most cheerful and colorful part of their life which is childhood would have become a nightmare. The psychological trauma for the child would remain with them and they might not be able to trust anyone in the future and may have mental health issues like anxiety disorders, poor self-esteem, depression, somatization and phobia towards any person who tries to touch them and they might not be even normal with their partners in the future. The child would lose the interest in life which may affect his studies, career…etc.

And this problem of child sexual abuse is globally prevalent at 19.7% in females and 7.8% in males, which shows us girl child is more vulnerable to this problem. This highest rate of this issue is in South Africa where one child is raped for every 3 minutes and this is because they believe that having sex with a virgin would reduce the chances of HIV/AIDS even though it is just a myth. India is the 2nd country and children in juvenile cells are more vulnerable to the issue and next follows Zimbabwe and United Kingdom and the United States.

Precautions by Parents 

This issue can be addressed if the parents keep an eye on child activities and try talking to them every day and get to know child’s day to day activities and trust them if they say any such incidents of sexual abuse.

Parents should try to maintain a more amicable relationship with their children and give the child the comfort space to talk to them freely and address their issues. And also they attain certain age should make their child understand about their body and provide a certain level of sex education instead of being ashamed talking about it as it would prevent children from getting wrong information from unreliable sources.

Causes of this issue 

(i)    Detrimental thinking of the Perpetrators

(ii)   Lack of care and supervision of Parents on children

(iii)  Lack of proper sex education

(iv)  Dysfunctional families

(v)   Impact of certain television programs, movies…etc.

Legal View 

To address this problem at a global level The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children made an international treaty that legally obliges states to protect children’s rights. Some articles in it require a child to protect from all forms of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.

In India before 2012, no specific child abuse Act was there except Goa Children’s Act 2003 and the accused in such cases would have been convicted under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 sections 354, 375,377 which are Outraging the modesty of a woman, Rape and Unnatural Offences but it has loopholes has it doesn’t protect the interests of the male child and doesn’t exactly give any protection to male children and were a kind of umbrella provisions.

But in the year 2012, the Indian Parliament passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which incorporates child-friendly procedures for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offenses and also created a child helpline organization with toll-free number 1098.

And also defined the child as a person under 18 years of age and encompasses the biological age and is silent on the mental age. As the act is gender neutral it both the interest of children of both the sexes and also criminalizes pornography both watching and collection of such content involving children

Apart from the government, many NGOs are coming up to protect the interests of the children and also many campaigns, one such which has been recently come up was by World Vision India (WVI) a non-government organization. Titled ‘It takes every Indian to End Child Sexual Abuse’, the campaign aims to put an end to exploitation and sexual abuse of children by 2021.[3]

Conclusion

Even though many NGOs, government programs are coming up to the rescue, still this crime is raised up at alarming rates, One in every two children victim of sexual abuse, says survey[4]. Despite the stringent laws have come up, there is a lack of its effectiveness.

If this is the one side of the story, the other is where disregard towards male child sexual abuse, it is an open fact that even male child is equally vulnerable towards the issue, but many don’t concern regarding the safety of male child as much as of the female child, which is giving perpetrators easy way to abuse the kids.

So to make this world safe place for children, we need to protect our sons and daughters equally. The very low rates of reporting and help-seeking among victims of sexually abused boys in India could be due to lack of knowledge of parents who think only a girl child can be sexually abused. The fact that it is oppressing all children who are perfect victims irrespective of their gender is being ignored in male children who are expected to be superior due to their biology and also because of this myth of superiority, there are unethical expectations for them to overcome the harmful effects of sexual abuse of children without treatment.

Therefore, in conclusion, I opine that equal attention needs to be paid to the children of both the sexes and if any such incident occurs with them, Parents, instead of being feared of what society thinks to complain the issue and help the child to overcome it.


– Vaishnavi Sabhapathi

Content Writer @ Legal Bites

References

[1] 72 CASE NO 22/07

[2] National Institute of public cooperation and child development, New Delhi, 2-24 June 1988

[3] http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/ngo-aims-to-put-an-end-to-child-sex-abuse-by-2021/article19830518.ece; Last visited on 5th November 2017.

[4] A survey participated in by more than 45,000 children in the 12- 18 age group, across 26 states in the country, revealed that one in every two children is a victim of child sexual abuse. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/one-in-every-two-children-victim-of-sexual-abuse-says-survey/story-spc4MsZTJsmjyrlTZJep7L.html

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