Combating child sexual abuse By Harini Calamur

A 5-year-old girl was out playing in Delhi, when she was kidnapped. Taken to a room in the same building in which she stayed with her family, she was raped and brutalised with objects. The men then scurried back to their villages in Bihar, abandoning the child without food and water. She was found two days later, when neighbours heard her crying. There is outrage being reflected on screens and on social media.

At around the same time that the 5-year-old was being brutalised in Delhi, another 5-year-old in Madhya Pradesh, was lured by a man offering her chocolates. He raped her, strangled her and left her to die in the fields. She was discovered the following morning and is currently undergoing treatment in Nagpur.

In March, a story that made some waves – was that of an 11-year-old girl who went into labour and delivered a stillborn child. The girl from Vadodara, Gujarat, had been raped by her own uncle, in the relative safety of her home.

Two months earlier in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra, three sisters (ages 5, 9 and 11) were promised food by a stranger. They went with him, never to return. There is still some confusion on whether they were raped, but none on the fact that they were murdered. Their bodies were found dumped in a well. Someone had taken three little girls, promised them food and had drowned them.

It is not just girls who are at risk, a 6-year-old boy in Allahabad, returning home from a temple, was lured with sweets, and sodomised. His alleged rapist is a minor. A few days earlier, a school teacher in Delhi, lured a 5-year-old with food and raped him. A few weeks earlier in Mumbai, a three year old boy was raped by a neighbour, who lured him with chocolates. Also making waves is the story of the gruesome serial rape and murder of young boys in Patna.

If you conduct a random search for “child + rape + India” or “child + sexual abuse + India”  the results are likely to give you sleepless nights. There is no place that is safe, whether it is schools, school buses, homes, neighbourhoods or parks. The rapists are assorted too – fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, teachers, classmates, neighbours and random strangers. Both boys and girls are at risk.

A study on child abuse in 2007, makes for horrific reading. Some of this includes:

  • Two out of every three children were physically abused.
  • Out of 69% children physically abused in 13 sample states, 54.68% were boys
  • Out of those children physically abused in family situations, 88.6% were physically abused by parents.
  • 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
  • Children on the street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
  • 50% of abuse is conducted by persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
  • Most children did not report the matter to anyone

Read on to know more