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30% Adults Justify Physical Punishments: UN Reveals Horrific Facts About Violence Against Children

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By Devadutta Bhattacharjee:

Violence against children is a not something new in our society; it has, however, changed its definitions several times. Despite it being common knowledge, very few people actually understand in depth, what violence against children really means. Every time a child is hit by a teacher because he/she didn’t understand something, every time a child is verbally abused to the point of tears, every time a child is touched in a way it makes him or her uncomfortable- it is violence.

Hidden in Plain Sight

UNICEF published a report on violence against children titled, ‘Hidden in Plain Sight.’ This report includes extensive amounts of data about the wide categories and types of violence against children, their sociological, psychological, economical impacts and so on. This report takes 190 countries into account and has brought into light some shocking facts about child abuse and violence. One in every ten girls under the age of 20 has been sexually forced; one in every 3 married girl between the age of 15-19 has been a victim of physical, sexual and/or mental violence; 95,000 homicide victims in 2012 were children and adolescents, making them one fifth of the total homicide victims; three in 10 adults believe that physical punishment is essential in the upbringing of a child.

Violence against children is taking place all around us, some choose to ignore it and many others are the ones giving shape to it. Many parents consider it their right to shout at their child for not finishing food, forcing him/her to stay in a dark room or pulling their ears for being unruly, as a methodology to make the child a better individual. But little is known about the long term effects of these things. According to the UNICEF reports, children who grow up witnessing violent behaviour around them tend to be violent themselves, ultimately inflicting the same on their own children.

Deeper Layers of Child Abuse
For parents who think that they are hitting their child for his/her own good- it has been discovered that children who are abused are more likely to get lower grades, drop out of school or college and have poor learning and behavioural problems.

Bullying is also a kind of violence in which the perpetrators might be children themselves. In a middle income country such as India, almost half the adolescent population has been or is being subjected to bullying. Also, children are the worst sufferers when it comes to freedom in sexual preferences. Even in countries where homosexuality is legal, adolescents face violence if they are homosexuals or bisexuals. In a nation like India, where the subject of “sin” and pending legal recognition is concerned, adolescents constrain their sexuality which can cause serious psychological damage. The stigma of accepting homosexuality is present more in boys than girls, with the former having a harder time making his peers accept it as well. The most appalling discovery, however, is that children with homosexual guardians are also subjected to violence.

Towards Hope
Bell Bajao campaign- a 2008 initiative undertaken by an organization named Breakthrough encourages men and boys to ‘ring the bell’ to end domestic violence. This is a bold step towards ending violence which goes on behind closed doors. Breakthrough’s vans travelled across India and showed videos of people ringing the bell and intervening to stop domestic violence. More recently in 2013, a media campaign called ‘Time to Sound the Red Siren’ was launched. It addresses the issue of sexual violence among children, especially girls; an issue which does not get the required exposure in the Indian society.

Violence against children is not an issue which can be done away with economic development. High income countries face this as well. In fact, with economic development, cyber-victimization increases. In order to put a stop to child violence, one must understand that it derives its strength from any form of violence which can influence the human mind. Violence is never the answer when it comes to teaching our children or instilling values and etiquettes. It is not just the parents who have to be educated about how to treat their children and impart education, this responsibility falls upon the entire society. It is time to raise our voices against child abuse; it’s time to spare the rod.

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  1. Babar

    The biggest form of violence is committed by those parents who are lenient, and whose leniency is spoiling their children – children whose performance in school is deteriorating, whose behavior is appalling, and who are neither hard working nor obedient towards their parents.

    A parent raising their voice at their child or slapping a child lightly is not violence. I have seen many western children who neither respect their parents nor are grateful for their sacrifices. Is it any surprise that old people’s homes are a common sight in the west, and since the germs of western civilization have strengthened
    their hold in India, old age homes have sprung up here too.

    As for violence against children, it is perpetrated by women on teenage domestic help in countless households, who are beaten everyday in a horrendous manner. Violence is also a result of bullying in schools, where teachers leniency and lack of interest makes bullies get away with violence, and of course, parents who do not react to their child’s atrocious behavior. Violence is very common online too, in the form of cyberbullying, where girls abuse, harass, humiliate, post vicious text messages, derogatory photoshopped images, and a number of other things which lead teenagers to suicide. Although there have been many suicides due to cyberbullying, the case of Megan Meier was deeply disturbing in particular, and such cases have led to the making of the movie Cyberbully, which shows just how vicious girls can be.

    Watch it online here.

  2. Monistaf

    This article is about “Violence against children”, which, in my humble opinion, should include ALL children, boys and girls. Why is it so difficult to include infographics on violence against boys, similar to the ones you had for girls? Do they even exist? Did you choose not to include them because you thought that it is irrelevant? Both little boys and little girls are equally precious and deserve equal protection, compassion and justice. Does the graphic on “young people killed in homicides” represent absolute numbers? The total population of the country must also be included to interpret this data. 9000 homicides in a population of 1 billion is 0.0009% and 3500 out of 300 million for the USA is about 0.0012%. Even though they are small numbers, I agree with you that it is still unacceptable. I see that you also left out “Mothers” in “who commits physical violence”. Is that by choice, or are you saying that it is non existent. It would also be nice to break up the “Teachers” between male and female. I would suspect that the vast majority of them are female. The issue with articles like these are that they are desperately trying to hide any hint of any injustice committed by females and focus only on girls as victims, as if it little boys don’t deserve our collective empathy. While I agree that violence against children is a serious concern, I also believe that a more inclusive article would have been more compelling to the reader.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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