Child abusers are strangers or some one known?

Shatter the Silence

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While considering the present scenario and observing the children living with their parents, in slums, in metropolitan cities, or in the abodes of the poor or among the landless laborers in the rural areas, one can guess the tragic fate of these buds that fade when they had to bloom. Most of the poor people among all castes and communities have a large number of children. If you asked them the reason, they would say that having more children may help in solving their financial problems as they will let them earn. This workaround is not only spoiling their childhood but also affecting the country’s progress as their so called workaround ends up in increasing more poverty in addition to child exploitation and abuse.

But the question is that, whether they are the only ones who are victims? We can say there are many myths and misconceptions about child exploitation and abuse. Very often, the television, radio and the newspaper cover stories about children who are abused, abducted and even murdered, usually by strangers but it is important to know that these are not typical crimes. Sexual abusers are more likely to be people we know, and could well be people we care about; after all more than 8 out of 10 children who are sexually abused know their abuser. They are family members or friends, neighbours or babysitters – many hold responsible positions in their families and society. Some will seek out employment which brings them into contact with children; some will hold positions of trust which help to convince other adults that they are beyond reproach, making it hard for adults to raise their concerns.

In cases where the abuser is a close family member, children may not reveal their sexual victimisation until they become adults. Many never tell even then.

There is little evidence that many children deliberately make false allegations or misinterpret appropriate adult-child contact as sexual abuse. In the few recorded cases in which children appear to have made false allegations, it has usually been the result of manipulation by an adult.

Some of the basic facts about child abuse: (Referred from: http://www.india.com/top-n/child-abuse-in-india-5-shocking-facts-revealed-by-the-unicef-125712/)

 

  • Major abuse reported between the age group of 5 to 11 years.
  • Boys, as compared to girls are equally at risk of abuse:

“You have a daughter; her safety is of utmost importance. Boys can take care of themselves”

These are some of the common statements that you hear from the society. Although girls and boys are at an equal risk of being abused, the latter is left out at his own expense. Women’s rape cases being reported more and discussed more in media, issues of men are usually sidelined. The topic being a sensitive one everybody likes discussing a rape case which has been blown up by the media. The UNICEF report says that 69% children are physically abused in family situations in 13 sample states in which 54.68% were boys. Equal percentage of both boys and girls are reported facing emotional abuse.

  • Persons in trust and authority are major abusers, mostly parents.
  • 4% girls wished they were boys: With all the love and fondness being enjoyed by boys at large, girls automatically consider themselves to be subdued to men.
  • Most children reported the issue to none.

Every child deserves a parent but do every parents deserve a child?

Yes, it is sometimes due to negligence of the parents most of the children are suffering. Even in some cases parents themselves involve in abusing a child. Abusing can happen in many ways, sometimes even parents don’t understand that their behaviour or way of screaming or any activity affects the psychological condition of their children.

Studies about early childhood development indicates that the brain develops in response to experiences with caregivers, family and the community, and that its development is directly linked to the quality and quantity of those experiences. Meeting a child’s needs during these early stages creates an emotional stability and security that is needed for healthy brain development. Repeated exposure to stressful events can affect the brain’s stress response, making it more reactive and less adaptive. With time a child may react as if danger is always present in their environment regardless of what the presenting situation actually is. (Referred from the website: http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/learn/child-abuse-neglect/effects-child-abuse-neglect).

Legal provisions related to child sexual abuse:

There was no appropriate legal framework in India which deals with child sexual abuse until 2012. Earlier sex crimes against children were protected by section 354, 375, 377, 509 of Indian Penal Code. Section 354 deals with “Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty”, Section 374 deals with rape, Section 509 states any person who intends to insult the modesty of a woman through words, gesture or act and Section 377 of the IPC deals with unnatural offences.

The pornography was dealt with Young Persons (Harmful Publication) Act, 1956. However, the IPC could not effectively protect the child due to various loopholes like:

  • IPC 375 doesn’t protect male victims or anyone from sexual acts of penetration other than “traditional” peno-vaginal intercourse.
  • IPC 354 lacks a statutory definition of “modesty”. It carries a weak penalty and is a compoundable offence. Further, it does not protect the “modesty” of a male child.
  • In IPC 377, the term “unnatural offences” is not defined. It only applies to victims penetrated by their attacker’s sexual act, and is not designed to criminalize sexual abuse of children.

In the year 2012, the Parliament of India has passed the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act (POSCO) for the victims of child sexual abuse below 18 years of age.

Firstly, POSCO Act is gender neutral. The consent of the child is immaterial under this act.
Secondly, this law mandates the reporting and recording of sexual abuse against a child. Section 19(1) of the POSCO Act makes it compulsory to report the offence.
Thirdly, this act lists the sexual crimes committed against a child.
Fourthly, it also provides protection to minors during the judicial process.
Fifthly, “Section 5(j): “Whoever commits penetrative sexual assault on a child, which in the case of female child, makes the child pregnant as a consequence of sexual assault.” However, even in these offences, women can be joined as abettors under Section 16, POCSO Act”.

The world is dangerous not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. It’s time to shatter the silence. Your child’s growth will determine the future of your society. If you treat them dangerously, then it can either get habituated of bearing any kind of torture or they may treat their children in the same manner. It’s easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult. Whether by action or spoken words, parents are the implements that write the story of a child’s future. You can’t teach a child to behave well by making them feel worse.  It is crucial for the parents to create a protective environment for the child and to guide their children how to protect themselves from any kind of abuse. Treat your children with same love and attention you wanted from your parents while growing up instead of treating your child like how you were treated.

Other References: http://blog.ipleaders.in/laws-related-child-sexual-abuse-india/

http://www.childlineindia.org.in/Child-Sexual-Abuse-and-Law.htm

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About Priyanka Sinha 13 Articles
Advocate and Cyber Law Consultancy also Pursuing Intellectual Property Law from NLSIU, Bangalore.
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