On 3rd May, 2009, the Sunday Hindustan Times carried a story of a 12-year-old ragpicker who became a mother at the tender age. On 26th April, 2009, The Times Of India carried the story of an older man raping a 5 year old girl living in the same building. On 24th Feb, 09, TOI also carried the story of a junior IAF officer in Israel who was held for molesting a child.
Nineteen percent of the world’s children live in India, which constitutes 42 percent of India’s total population.In 2007 the Ministry of Women and Child Development published the “Study on Child Abuse: India 2007.” It sampled 12447 children, 2324 young adults and 2449 stakeholders across 13 states. It looked at different forms of child abuse: Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Emotional Abuse and Girl Child Neglect in five evidence groups, namely, children in a family environment, children in school, children at work, children on the street and children in institutions.
The study’s main findings included: 53.22% of children reported having faced sexual abuse. Among them 52.94% were boys and 47.06% girls. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls, as well as the highest incidence of sexual assaults. 21.90% of child respondents faced severe forms of sexual abuse, 5.69% had been sexually assaulted and 50.76% reported other forms of sexual abuse. Children on the street, at work and in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault. The study also reported that 50% of abusers are known to the child or are in a position of trust and responsibility and most children had not reported the matter to anyone.
The ever increasing rate of child molestation in India brings forth a mentality prevalent in the Indian man (or woman, as the case may be). They are of the thought that children are an easy target and can easily be molested and abused in order to get sexual pleasure.
On the streets of Delhi and Mumbai, children are first lured into taking drugs, then they are shown explicit images and videos and then they are induced in the flesh trade prevalent in India. A number of children can be seen near Connaught Place and the Railway stations in Delhi, and at the various famous hangouts in Mumbai at night taking drugs. The street children are the worst affected and face regular abuses.
Recently while scavenging online and offline, looking for material as well as people to talk to regarding child abuse, I came across a rickshaw puller who narrated an incident of his village. He told me that about 2 months ago, a family had shifted in his neighborhood. They had a daughter around 7 or 8 years old, who had made friends with the boys and girls of rich families of the village who must have been around 12 years old. One day while playing, the boys lured her to come with them to their cow shed. When the girl got there, all the boys raped her and threatened her not to tell anyone. She did not disclose this to her parents. A few weeks after this incident her parents realised that their daughter’s behaviour had changed and that she started falling ill too often. When they got her checkup done at the local hospital, the reports clearly stated that she had been raped. After this she disclosed the incident. When her parents went to talk to the parents of the boys, who were the so called elder and the respected members of the village and decided to give some money to the parents of the girl and shut them up. They also threatened to burn their house if they confessed anything to the police. As a result, the parents of the girl had to leave the village with a tarnished bleak future of their girl.
This is not one incident, but a number of similar incidents are taking place in the villages of our states, even as you read this article. The cases do not come out.
The UN stated that in India, the least number of child abuse cases are reported, the reason being the social stigma. The child and his/her family have to suffer for the rest of their lives, be it because of the emotional and psychological factor or because of the way the society treats them.
CHILD ABUSE AND CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
Child abuse also leads to child pornography and develops a fear in the mind of a child. The child lives with the stigma for the rest of his/her life and is never able to talk openly about such incidents. An abuser can make the child very fearful of telling anyone else and tape record the heinous crime.
Child abuse and sexual molestation can only be tackled if we come together against those who do it. Strict laws, which are made should be implemented.
An adult should believe a child who says he or she has been sexually abused. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse, but the main problem is that children rarely open up about such incidents. Parents need to warn children about possible risks. Children should be taught about good and bad touches. They need to be told that no one should touch their private areas. Children should be told not to keep secrets from their parents, even if someone has threatened to harm them or their parents.
We can talk about this crime, debate about it, feature it on our blogs, in speeches, in magazines and elsewhere, but what can we do about the corrupt politicians, judiciary and bureaucrats who, even after knowing, do nothing. Their mouths are stuffed with cash.
This crime can be curtailed only if we all come together in the fight against the abusers, against the laws and the policies. The parents of the child must come forward. The media can play a tremendous role in highlighting the follow up actions of such cases. The society needs to be accepting and helpful to the victim and his/her parents.
On this issue Dr. Mallika Sarabhai told Youth Ki Awaaz that “the best thing for parents to do is to talk early to a child about the right and wrong touch and the right and wrong look. Make them aware of how someone is looking at them or touching them and encourage them to confide in you at once if something doesn’t feel right, even if from a family member or friend. Teach them not to be afraid of telling you.”
Lets all come together to fight against this evil and ensure security for our future generations.
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