TW: sexual harassment, child abuse
“Children are considered pure. They are divine. They don’t want anything, they are satisfied in life, and their smile is above anything, says Bhagavad Gita. Similarly, The Bible says that children are to be seen as a blessing, not a discomfort. They are God’s gift. A favourite Bible verse describes a child placed on the lap of Jesus, and Jesus blessing him.
The crime data against children reveals that children are not considered as god’s gift anymore. Child abuse is a common crime against them. According to WHO,
Child abuse isn’t just about physical abuse. Physical abuse leaves its marks on the body, whereas not all child abuse signs are as obvious. Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Child neglect, sexual, and emotional abuse are other types of abuse. It doesn’t matter which type of child abuse; it is, all-cause serious emotional harm.
The question which arises here is, why do abusers abuse children?
There’s no simple answer that will help explain why some people do this cruelty against innocent children, but there are many factors that may increase the risk.
There are many myths about child abuse, such as only poor people with criminal records abuse children, abuse doesn’t happen in reputed families, abusers are unknown, and strangers, a victim of abuse grows up as an abuser. According to WHO, 3 in 4 children aged 2-4 years suffer physical violence and psychological violence from their caretakers and parents. 300 million children suffer physical and psychological punishment regularly.
According to the data presented by Crimes against Children Research Center, Durham, and the papers from the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, US Department of Veterans Affairs, about 90% of victims of child abuse know their abuser. The percentage of abusers who were strangers is only 10.
Family members who sexually abused the children are approximately 30%. Most of the young victims are abused by family members. For people who abused a child under six, 50% were family members. 23% of abused children aged 12-18 are abused by family members. Most of the time, the abuser is trustable by the family of the abused children.
Alia Bhatt starter movie ‘Highway’ is the perfect example of child abuse at home.
The themes of sexual abuse and child abuse are highlighted in the movie. Alia acts as ‘Veera’ who gets kidnapped by Mahabir portrayed by Randeep Hooda. The story narrates her abuse in her childhood.
She describes to Mahabir how her uncle would rape her in her childhood. Alia did a great role. She seems like she wanted freedom all the time, and she got her freedom when she was kidnapped. She describes her childhood and is unable to hold back her tears. She also tells how her mother silenced her because the abuse was done by a relative.
Child abuse affects the victim’s life long and is more likely to cause depression, anxiety, and panic attacks in the future. According to the 2011 census, India has 472 million children below the age of eighteen, which is the largest population of children in the world. Child abuse is common in our country.
The rape news of minors is not new for India. 1,60,989 cases rape cases were registered under the POCSO act as of 2019, data collected from high courts. Protection of Children Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) was enacted in 2012. The law provides the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography. Special courts, special prosecutors, support persons for victims are set up for the treatment of cases relating to child abuse.
There is a myth that abusers rape only a girl child. In 2018, 21,605 child rapes were recorded, including 21,401 rapes of girls and 204 rapes of boys. Most of the boys keep silent and don’t say anything about the abuse out of the fear of being shamed as a boy.
Pocso Act, 2012 provides for many offences under which an accused can be punished. Under the act, the offences include:
Insertion of any part of body or object into a child’s vagina/urethra/anus/mouth, or asking them to do so
Bad touch is included under sexual assault.
Sexual remark, sexual noise, following children are included under sexual harassment:
Pornography in which a child is involved
Abuse of a physically or mentally disabled child would be considered as aggravated sexual assault.
The act is not gender biased and provides protection to all genders, and it is also gender-neutral for the abuser. One can not have pornography, which includes children.
The answer to the question ‘Can we prevent ourselves from abusing children and save our children from getting abused by others?’ is complex. Healing is not easy for children who experience child abuse. That is why parents need to ensure that their child is not getting abused.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a therapy that was used for the treatment of sexually abused children only. Now it is used to treat other types of abuse victims as well.
Parenting training can be a measure to stop child abuse and help children with a range of emotional, conduct, and behavioural challenges. Still, there is no such evidence about whether it treats parents who already abuse their children.
Good touch and bad touch must be taught in schools and to the students who don’t go to school, which can save children from abuse.
We live in a country where anything goes viral, but the government fails to provide necessary information to the public. We live in an age where children are smarter than any generation, so if we try to make them aware of their rights and about bad touch and good touch, they will understand.
Today, most of the children don’t know about their rights, and they don’t realize that they can complain against the abuser and the one who knows about it remains silent because their parents tell them to remain silent in most cases. The government must reach all the children in the country.
There must be monthly mental health checkups of the children in schools and also for the children who don’t go to school. Children are the future of this world, and if they are getting hurt, they are future is getting hurt too.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at email@example.com. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.