This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Castration For Child Abuse: Is That All We Want?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By P. V. Swati:

A Delhi court caused a stir on Friday, 17th of February as it requested legislators to consider castration as an alternative punishment for child abusers. Judge Kamini Lau stated in the session “castration is the most befitting sentence which can be imposed on any paedophile or serial offender but the hands of this court are tied as the statute does not provide for it. Indian legislators are yet to explore this as an alternative to conventional sentencing.”

Justice Lau sentenced a man to life imprisonment for raping his six-year-old niece and directed the prison authorities not to give him any remission. As he puts it “the message to be sent by the court has to be loud and clear, and that is ‘do not mess with a child’ and any person who meddles with the child, male or female, in any manner shall not be spared”.

Nandan had kidnapped his niece when she was playing with her brother and took her to his house on pretext of giving her ice-cream and raped her in April last year. Nandan had earlier tried to sexually assault women in his family but the matter was hushed up to protect family honour, the prosecution had stated. The court noted that the minor was rescued from the clutches of the convict by her mother and aunt who went to his house in search of the girl. They had found the injured child crying while Nandan was sleeping after committing the crime.

Leaving aside the judicial measures in this case, how much do we really know about child sexual abuse in India? How aware and alert are we? Child abuse which in many cases involves sexual elements is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities, inappropriate exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, direct sexual contact against a child, physical contact with the child’s genitals, viewing of the child’s genitalia without physical contact, using a child to produce child pornography or selling the sexual services.

Effects of child sexual abuse include guilt and self-blame, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, fear of things associated with the abuse, self-esteem issues, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, addiction, self-injury, suicidal ideation, somatic complaints, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, other mental illnesses including borderline personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder, propensity to re-victimization in adulthood and bulimia nervosa among other problems.

However, the subject of child sexual abuse is still a taboo in India. There is a conspiracy of silence around the subject and a very large percentage of people feel that this is a largely western problem and that child sexual abuse does not happen in India. Part of the reason of course lies in a traditional conservative family and community structure that does not talk about sex and sexuality at all. Parents do not speak to children about sexuality as well as physical and emotional changes that take place during their growing years. As a result of this, all forms of sexual abuse that a child faces do not get reported to anyone. The girl, whose mother has not spoken to her even about a basic issue like menstruation, is unable to tell her mother about the uncle or neighbour who has made sexual advances towards her. This silence encourages the abuser so that he is emboldened to continue the abuse and to press his advantage to subject the child to more severe forms of sexual abuse. Very often children do not even realize that they are being abused. In a study on Women’s Experiences of Incest and Childhood Sexual Abuse conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, some of the respondents have stated that till the questionnaire was administered to them they did not realize that they had been abused as children. They had buried the incident as a painful and shameful one not to be ever told to anyone.

Some deep seated fear has always moved Indian families to keep their girls and their ‘virginity’ safe and many kinds of social and cultural practices have been built around ensuring this. This shows that there is knowledge of the fact that a girl child is unsafe though nobody talks about it. However this fear is only around girls and the safety net is generally not extended to boys. There is evidence from this as well as other studies that boys are equally at risk.

The WHO estimates that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact, though this is certainly an underestimate. Much of this sexual violence is inflicted by family members or other people residing in or visiting a child’s family home- people normally trusted by children and often responsible for their care. A review of epidemiological surveys from 21 countries, mainly high- and middle- income countries, found that at least 7% of females (ranging up to 36%) and 3% of males (ranging up to 29%) reported sexual victimization during their childhood. According to these studies, between 14% and 56% of the sexual abuse of girls, and up to 25% of the sexual abuse of boys, was perpetrated by relatives or step parents. In many places, adults were outspoken about the risk of sexual violence their children faced at school or at play in the community, but rarely did adults speak of children’s risk of sexual abuse within the home and family context. The shame, secrecy and denial associated with familial sexual violence against children foster a pervasive culture of silence, where children cannot speak about sexual violence in the home, and where adults do not know what to do or say if they suspect someone they know is sexually abusing a child.

In Nandan’s case, the court has convicted 30-year-old for rape, kidnapping and unnatural sex. Calling the convict a “live sex bomb”, the court refused to take a lenient view of his act. It has also directed the Delhi government to grant a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the victim as part of restorative justice, as the victim had not recovered physically from the abuse. The judge noted that the victim was still receiving treatment and her resistance level had decreased as she was suffering from recurrent infections.

But as far as castration as a punishment for child abuse is concerned, it is undoubtedly incompatible with our constitutional principles. Its highly draconian and would taint the judiciary we have formulated as a modern nation-state. But, the larger questions are whether a stringent judicial penal code would prevent child abuse in future or would a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the victim would heal her for the life time. What we need is a wider awareness about child abuse as form of violation which can be inflicted not just by the external forces, but can victimise a child within the ‘protective’ confines of home. We need to educate our children to understand and guard their sexuality from any kind of abuse. We need to enable the victims to communicate their sufferings to the responsible entities. It is only after we have attained a social maturity to understand the gravity of child abuse as an evil act and make all possible efforts to prevent it that the judicial measures of penalising the culprit and compensating the victim would prove to be of any help.

You must be to comment.
  1. Anshul Kumar Pandey

    I am all for castration. I say this despite being a boy because I am concerned about the condition of women in this country. The purpose of any punishment is deterrence and it is observed that all pedophiles or repeat sexual offenders get at max a life sentence and come out relatively early without any remorse whatsoever. And this too happens only in cases where the prison sentence is actually carried out on the convict. In all the other cases, the trial goes on and on till the reputation of the girl’s family is shattered beyond repair and there is a complete psychological annihilation of the girl. The Judge Kamini Lau has recommended castration as a punishment for pedophiles and repeat sexual offenders. In my view thats a legitimate demand. If prison sentences do not act as a deterrence, castration surely would. This would serve two purposes. Through its psychological spin-off, it would arrest the gross inequality of treatment between girls and boys, which would in turn help arrest the constantly declining sex ratio of the country which is on the verge of dipping down below 900 for every 1000 boys. Secondly, it would, through its powerful deterrent appeal, help in reducing the crime rates and make cities and places safer for women. This would lead to greater participation of women in the public sphere and hence a more vibrant, representative and smoother functioning of the system.

    It is because of such reasons that I feel that castration should be provisioned for. If the constitution does not allow that for now, an amendment should be brought in to reflect the growing need of the society to combat these rowdy elements through such punishments. The need is for the social will. Political will will follow.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Namrata Priyadarshini

By Mohammed Rafi Shaik

By Imran Khan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below