In July, two Mumbai boys aged 10 and 13 passed away after committing suicide. It was later confirmed they were sexually assaulted. A fortnight later, a 16-year old boy filed a complaint against 15 boys who were brutally gang-raping him repeatedly for one year. These cases briefly brought to the forefront conversations around sexual abuse of boys.
As an aspect of gender violence, it has been constantly under-reported and under-recognised. This only goes on to add to the belief that male children cannot be survivors of sexual abuse. In fact, during our training, when we ask the community members if boys can be abused or not, we are greeted with confused looks and mostly a resolute ‘No’.
Myth: Survivors of child sexual abuse are almost always girls.
Reality: Boys can also be survivors of child sexual abuse.
There is readily available data from across the country and the world that clearly posits that boys are almost equally at risk as girls. In this post, we look at the oft-quoted statistics from the 2007 report on child abuse in India by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare. Only this time our focus is on data related to boys who have survived sexual abuse.
Sexual Assault Of Boys In India – Overall Statistics
One in every two children interviewed (53.22%) reported being victims of one or more forms of sexual abuse that included severe and other forms. More than half (52.94%) of those who reported abuse were boys while 47.06% were girls.
90% of children reported being subject to severe forms of sexual abuse that included sexual assault, making the child fondle private parts, making the child exhibit private body parts and being photographed in the nude. Of these, a majority (57.3%) were boys.
Half (50.7%) the children were subjected to other forms of sexual abuse that included forcible kissing, sexual advances made during travel and marriages and exposure to pornographic materials. Once again, more than half the survivors (53.07%) were boys.
Of all the children reporting sexual assault (penetration of the anus, vagina or oral sex), 54.4% were boys.
Children Reporting Forms Of Sexual Abuse – Genderwise Breakdown
Out of the total child respondents, 14.5% reported incidents when someone made them fondle or touch their private body parts. Among these children, a majority (58.40%) were boys.
12.6% of children reported that someone forced them to show or exhibit their private body parts. Of these, a majority (60.25%) were boys.
When asked about whether anyone has shown or exhibited them his/her private body parts, 16.97% out of the total child respondents admitted such incidents taking place with them. Once again, a majority (55.58%) were boys.
Sexual Assault Of Boys In India – Statewise Statistics
A state-wise breakdown shows that 9 out of 13 (69%) states reported a higher percentage of sexual abuse among boys as compared to girls, with Delhi reporting a figure of 65.64%.
When it comes to severe forms of sexual abuse, again 9 out of 13 states (69%) reported a higher percentage of sexual abuse among boys as compared to girls.
7 out of 13 states (54%) reported a higher percentage of boys facing one or more severe forms of other sexual abuse as compared to girls.
The data clearly reflects that in almost all forms of sexual abuse, the number of boys who have faced abuse was equal to the number of girls who have faced abuse, if not more.