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Why Child Abuse Is An Evil We Need To Pay Immediate Attention To

More from Ashvin Malviya

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.

Child Abuse Isn’t Just About Physical Abuse

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,

  • 1 out of 2 children aged 2-17 years suffered violence in the past year.
  • 1 out of  4 adults was physically abused as children.
  • 12% of children were physically abused in the past year
  • 200 000 homicides occur each year among youth aged 10-29 years
  • 25% of teenagers were bullied in a month.

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.

Representation Image. Child abuse isn’t just about physical abuse.

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.

  • Many abusers have a past of child abuse or neglect in their childhood.
  • Psychological problems such as depression
  • Bad parenting and poor relationship between child-parents
  • The economic crisis in a family
  • Poor knowledge about basic Childhood development
  • Lack of skills needs for parenting
  • Less support from family members and known people such as neighbours, community
  • Lack of knowledge which needs to be known by the caretakers of the children with intellectual and other disabilities
  • Relationship issues such as divorce, domestic violence, separation

Myths About Child Abuse

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.

How Alia Bhatt Starrer Highway Raised The Issue Of Child Abuse

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.

The Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO)

 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.

It’s Important To Make Children Aware Of Their Rights

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.

Featured image source: Snappygoat.com
Image is for representation purpose only

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 dial1098@childlineindia.org.in. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.

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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.

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.

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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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