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The Extent, Form, And Pattern Of Child Sexual Abuse In India by Asangha Rai student of B.A. LLB (Final Year) at Lovely Professional University


INTRODUCTION

Every human when born deserves a normal childhood and it is very important how it is lived. Being a kid is such an amazing life, you wake up in the morning with hundreds of crazy ideas to do in your head, get pampered by your grandparents, enjoy all the freedom under the sun without any restrictions and get away with things easily. That’s the perks of being a child but there are many unfortunate ones who do not get to go through this kind of normal childhood and later on grow into becoming naive, depressed people with physical and mental difficulties.

Child abuse is a major issue and it has been in the scenario for a long time and has been growing since. There are different kinds of abuse and sexual abuse happens to be the most tried on abuse to boys and mostly girls at a very young age.

India is one of the most populated countries in the world where 40% of the population is below the age of 18. and child sexual abuse is one of the most reported cases and is on the rise every year.

Child sexual abuse can be in any form and pattern which directly or indirectly affects the child’s mental and physical health and weakens her as he/she grows into an adult. It is a serious crime and even after endless legal implementations the legal system still fails to curb the rise in numbers of child sexual abuse in India.

We live in a world where we believe it is important to create a healthy environment for the seeds that are sowed and nurtured because the future depends on them to make it better. Children are very important assets for the future and it is our duty to protect them at any cost.

Understanding Child Sexual Abuse in India

Child abuse is a brutal crime that hinders the growth of an individual. It affects in various ways and patterns and forms. There are different kinds of child abuse

  • Physical abuse.
  • Mental abuse.
  • Emotional abuse.
  • Gas lighting.
  • Stockholm syndrome
  • Online abuse.

Sexual abuse to children is a serious social issue and a major growing crime in India.

Abuse and neglect are defined as “injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child”[1]. This abuse can be of several kinds according to the World Health Organization (WHO) – physical, mental, emotional, psychological or in the form of neglect or exploitation. It brings about circumstances causing harm to a child’s health, welfare, and safety. Child abuse, in its various forms can be found everywhere in India – in cities and rural homes, in the homes of the rich and the poor, and in the streets and schools. Wiping out child abuse in India requires a complex strategy that will require multi-stakeholder support. The WHO Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention (62) which stated that: ‘Child sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society”[2]. Child sexual abuse is evidenced by this activity between a child and an adult or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power, the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other person. This may include but is not limited to:

— the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

— the exploitative use of a child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

— the exploitative use of children in pornographic performance and materials’[3]

India is one of the leading countries in the world with the maximum number of cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Cases that are reported are shocking and took the nation by a swing making India not a very safe place for most women of all ages as compared to men.

A girl child is not safe in India. 95% of the cases reported on child sexual abuse are about girls below the age of 16. the cases that are reported are not only committed by strangers but 90% of the cases of sexual child abuse are committed by people living under the same roof. There have been many cases where the father, uncle, or cousin has exploited the child sexually. Sexual exploitation may include, clicking indecent photographs of the child, making the child pornographic content or by physically teasing them. The children who go through these kind of abuse are scared to tell it to somebody out of fear or they are too young to realize what has occurred. When these children grow up the trauma of abuse haunts them making them vulnerable, lonely, depressed and weak. The dynamics of child sexual abuse differ from those of adult sexual abuse. In particular, children rarely disclose sexual abuse immediately after the event. Moreover, disclosure tends to be a process rather than a single episode and is often initiated following a physical complaint or a change in behaviour.

Child Sexual Abuse is:

1. Any sexual contact between an adult and child, defined as:

  • touching, with the intention of sexually arousing the child or providing sexual arousal for the offending party, kissing, by one whose purpose is like touching
  • fondling of genitals or other parts of the body in a sexual or prolonged manner
  • overt sexual contact, such as oral-genital contact, or manual stimulation of genitals or intercourse.

2. Any behavior that is intended to stimulate the child sexually, or to sexually stimulate the abusing person through the use of the child, including showing the child erotic materials, photographing the child in a sexual manner or talking sexually to the child.

3. Sexual contact by a person that is in an older developmental stage than the child. Even children in the same developmental stage can experience the act as abusive if physical, emotional, harm is inflicted or used as coercion.

FORMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE.

Sexual abuse in children are often different as compared to the adults and it cannot be handled in the same manner.

  1. Physical abuse.
  2. Emotional abuse.
  3. Gas lighting.
  4. Stockholm syndrome.
  5. Online Sexual abuse.
  6. Physical abuse : when a child is exploited with his/her sexuality by force or mostly with a lot of manipulation. Physical force/violence is very rarely used; rather the perpetrator tries to manipulate the child’s trust and hide the abuse. The perpetrator is typically a known and trusted caregiver. Almost 20% of the girls experience sexual abuse defined as sexual activity (including fondling) for which the girl did not give consent, is not prepared for developmentally, or cannot understand. Sexually abused children are scared to flaunt their sexuality and grow into believing that pleasure and sex is dangerous while it is just a normal process of creating another life.
  7. Emotional abuse : Emotional abuse mostly requires manipulation. Most pedophiles manipulate children and builds a trust and uses it to take advantage of her.
  8. Gas lighting : this method is an insidious method of emotional abuse. It makes the child delusional, the offender creates a pattern of lies and makes the child question her senses. It is a physiological form of abuse where your emotions and experiences are twisted and turned it against you making you question your own reality. this is along process and it takes time to and once an abusive partner has broken down your ability to trust your own perspective, you may be more vulnerable to the effects of abuse, making it more difficult to leave the abusive relationship. 
  9. Stockholm syndrome : The Stockholm Syndrome provides an explanation for the reluctance of both child and adult victims of child sexual abuse to disclose the abuse and when already disclosed, to recant (later deny) that it occurred. Because of the close relationships between parent and child, betrayal bonds are present when abuse occurs. Children are dependent on their parents, and the child’s survival is at risk. Dissociation is a central mechanism in betrayal trauma theory, allowing victims to be unaware of information that may threaten the relationship with a trusted other or someone upon whom they depend for survival. The betrayal bond facilitates continued attachment to the perpetrator. When discussing domestic violence  or child sexual abuse, the dynamics of the Stockholm Syndrome can be helpful in understanding the behavior of child victims.
  10. Online Sexual abuse: In the age of internet, Children can be exposed to online sexual abuse by strangers when they are playing online games or through social media.It is felt that often children find no escape from this as they are afraid of the fact that offenders can reach them any time of the day and could access their personal space.

RISK FACTORS FOR SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE.

A number of factors that make individual children vulnerable to sexual abuse have been identified;

  • female sex (though in some developing countries male children constitute a large proportion of child victims);
  • unaccompanied children;
  • children in foster care, adopted children, stepchildren
  • physically or mentally handicapped children. history of past abuse;
  • poverty;
  • war/armed conflict;
  • psychological or cognitive vulnerability;
  • single parent homes/broken homes;
  • social isolation (e.g. lacking an emotional support network);
  • parent(s) with mental illness, or alcohol or drug dependency

IMPACT OF CHILD ABUSE.

  • The possible impact of sexual abuse – is depression, sleep disturbances, nightmares, frequent urinary infections, isolation from family and friends, or withdrawal from usual activities.
  • Tendency to become either obsessive or apathetic about hygiene Anxiety, passivity or overly “pleasing” behavior, low self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, and promiscuous activity
  • Adults experience the ramification of sexual abuse through anger, rebellion, self harm, fear, inappropriate sexual behavior, or difficulty in developing close relationships
  • Many people who have been sexually abused fall into obsessive compulsive behavior patterns such as excessive bathing, teeth-brushing, or hand-washing due to feeling perpetually dirty
  • Many victims of sexual abuse will turn to food as a source of comfort which often develops into an eating disorder: anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating
  • 1 in 3 young women is sexually abused before age 18.[4]
  • Most sexual abuse against children is perpetrated by a family member (e.g., father, stepfather, aunt, uncle, sibling, cousin) or family intimate (e.g., live-in lover or friend of the parent)

INDIA’S LEGAL STANCE ON CHILD ABUSE AND PREVENTION.

As of today,Child abuse is still a big social issue in India.The constitution of India ensures the protection of children from abuse. They are protected under Article under:

  • Article 14 -The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India[5]. Thus nobody including the children should be denied of equality of status, opportunity and protection.
  • Article 15(3) – The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. Thus nobody including the children should be denied of equality of status, opportunity and protection.
  • Article 21 Right to life and personal liberty to all individuals.[6]
  • Article 21(A) Right to education ensure compulsory and free education to all children below the age of 14. On August, 2009. The parliament of India enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE).[7]
  • Article 24 of the Indian constitution also protects children under the age of 14 from working in factories, mines or any hazardous places of employment.[8]
  • Article 39(a), (e) and (f) specifically provide certain policies to be followed by the State for the welfare of the children. Article 39(f) states “that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment[9].”
  • Article 45 in explicit terms directs the State to endeavour to provide free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years, within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the constitution. This direction reflects the interest of the framers of the constitution as regards the education of the children as education is the foundation for a healthy and proper development of a child[10].

The Children are also protected under the Child Rights which ensures:

  • Right to survival
  • Right to health and nutrition.
  • Right to a standard of living.
  • Right to play and leisure.
  • Right to education
  • Right to be protected from economical exploitation.
  • Right to equality.

India’s Protection of Children Against Sexual Offence Act of 2012 (POCSO) and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act have also strengthened in their aim of fighting child rights violation. There has also been a corresponding increase in the number of child abuse cases filed by organizing camps and spreading awareness about the legal remedies available which resulted to an increase in a number of convictions.

PREVENTING SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE

i. The role of parents: Parents must educate children about sexual advances or threats and protect them from abuse through the concept of unacceptable “bad touch”. This communication must be constant, friendly, and frank, and teach children how their sexuality works so they don’t unknowingly harass others.

ii. Donate money to NGO’s

NGO’s like Save the Children have dedicated services fighting child sex abuse, and providing rehab to victims of abuse. It conducts pan-India programme engaging parents, teachers, communities and even children about sexual abuse. Adolescents are involved in elaborate projects on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH).

iii. Reporting incidents of child abuse
a. Online system for children to report sexual abuse

The Ministry of Women and Child Development’s ‘e-box.’ is an online reporting system children enabling children to report incidents of inappropriate touching and molestation, anonymously if they choose. These reports are received by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

b. Report it to police: Police officers are legally bound to address child abuse complaint. Further, the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act makes it illegal to witness and not report suspected child abuse and not report it. The POCSO Act has increased cases brought to trial.

CASES ON SEXUAL ABUSE IN CHILDREN

  • Hathras gang-rape and murder.[11]

The incident took place on September 14, 2020, when a 19-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped and brutally assaulted by four upper-caste men while her family members were busy working on the fields. The family claimed that four to five people attacked her from behind, gagged her with her dupatta and dragged her to a bajra field where they gang-raped her

A 22-year-old man in the Kalahandi district of Odisha has been arrested by police for allegedly raping his three-year-old niece. The accused is a resident of Maskapadar village in the Lanjigarh police station area. He lured the child with sweets and toys on Sunday and took her to ‘Jhami Yatra’ (a local festival), a police officer said. Later, he allegedly raped her at a deserted place and dropped her home. The child’s mother, on finding out that she was bleeding, rushed her to a community health centre.

An eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped by an elderly man in a village in Uttar Pradesh. The accused, identified as Jagdish Pal, 70, was arrested later. The incident took place in the Baberu area in the Banda district when the girl was playing near her house.According to the police, the girl has a vision problem and cannot see clearly.

SOME TRUSTED ORGANISATION IN INDIA TO PREVENT CHILD ABUSE

  1. CHILD RIGHTS AND YOU
  2. GIVE INDIA FOUNDATION
  3. GOONJ
  4. CARE INDIA.
  5. NANHI KALI
  6. HELPAGE INDIA
  7. PRATHAM
  8. SAVE THE CHILDREN
  9. OXFAM INDIA

CONCLUSION.

Child sexual abuse is a growing crime in India, According to Interpol, an estimated 2.4 million instances of online child sexual abuse were reported from India from 2017 to 2020. Eighty per cent of these children were girls under the age of 14. The US-based National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported that more than 2.44 million children were abused in 2017 and by 2020 the cases will increase. When it comes to child sexual abuse material, they are getting much more proactive in India.

There are many entities that upload these videos that have started moving their hosting to other countries, these syndicates are using children as a tool to their business of pedophilia, porn and pornography[14]. In today’s world children too are not safe, there’s a lot trafficking, flesh trade, exploitation, child pornography etc and the sad part is that it begins at ones own home. Sexual abuse hinders a child’s growth in all possible ways. She may have low opinions about healthy sex, afraid to celebrate her sexuality, go into depression, PTSD and many more.

In order to curb the rise in number of sexual abuse in children we must educate the children especially women about a good touch and a bad touch. There is a lot of protection provided by the legal system in India that protects the rights of the children against the offenders and pedophiles but the law itself is not enough because there are hundreds of cases not reported and these children are abused and exploited. We must understand how dangerous it is for the society and how we as citizens of India must be aware and report if these kind of incidents are happening in our locality.

Sexual child abuse is fatal for the society and we must do everything to protect those children who are victim to child sexual abuse and ensure legal remedies available for it is our future at stake. The next generation can only be a success if the present generation is secured from such social menace and in order to do this we as citizens must oblige to speak up about child abuses happening around our locality and spread awareness about how fatal the trauma can be to children if it goes unreported.


[1] Definition, available at : www.who.int (visited on 4th February, 2021)

[2]

[3] Definition, available at : www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention
 (visited on 4th February, 2021)

[4] Definition, available at : www.vikaspedia.com (visited on 4th February, 2021)

[5] https://www.constitutionofindia.net/constitution_of_india/fundamental_rights/articles/Article%2014

[6] https://www.constitutionofindia.net/constitution_of_india/fundamental_rights/articles/Article%2015

[7] https://dsel.education.gov.in/rte

[8] https://www.constitutionofindia.net/constitution_of_india/fundamental_rights/articles/Article%2024

[9] https://www.constitutionofindia.net/constitution_of_india/directive_principles_of_state_policy/articles/Article%2039

[10] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1791268/

[11] www.livelaw.in

[12]https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-man-in-odisha-rapes-3-year-old-niece-arrested/375786#:~:text=A%2022%2Dyear%2Dold%20man,the%20Lanjigarh%20police%20station%20area.

[13] https://www.ndtv.com/topic/banda-rape

[14] https://www.afternoonvoice.com/india-has-the-largest-number-of-child-sexual-abuse-cases-in-the-world.html

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