CSA in the news media
 

FEATURED ARTICLES:

(The four articles below refer to the same study conducted by Prayas, UNICEF and Save the Children.)

Give them back their childhood
THE HINDU Magazine, April 22nd, 2007

THE first survey of its kind — the National Survey on Child Abuse — virtually across the length and breadth of the country has come up with a startling revelation: a majority of children have experienced various forms of violation, physical excesses and sexual abuse. Over 50 per cent had experienced physical abuse such as slapping and corporal punishment from parents and teachers alike; more specifically nearly 65 per cent of schoolchildren, particularly from government schools, reported that they had been beaten by their teachers.

Of the many children that were sexually abused, almost 70 per cent stated that they had never reported the matter to anyone. Last but not the least, with every second child admitting to being emotionally abused, it is no exaggeration to say that the survey is possibly the single largest vote of no-confidence against the natural and trusted guardians of the young.

Under a cloud

So much so that the much-revered and much-lauded Indian family is under a cloud for not only being one of the main perpetrators of the crime but also for using the smokescreen of the sanctity of the family to hide many ugly realities. More worrisome is the finding that the teacher, often associated with a noble profession, not only proves to be ignoble but also a child-baiter, resembling the infamous Fagin abusing Oliver Twist.

So what are we battling today? As a nation, we need to recognise the sanctity of the child, as citizens to stand up and be counted and as a society to have the courage to look within and speak out.

Maybe for a start we can recognise the fact that we all need help, having probably been trapped in two sets of irreconcilable value systems and norms? Ever ready to accept modern aspirations and values but not willing to sacrifice the traditional expectations and safeguards.

In many ways, more than happy to adopt norms such as the two-child household, nuclear family, facilitating children in the pursuit of excellence and even willing to treat them as friends in need of guidance and care but at the same time privileging oneself with the right to use of the age-old techniques of authority and wherever possible impose the familial diktat. In other words, as parents and as teachers, we often end up by making sure that all that we do in the name of children is driven by the adult and their notions of right and wrong, success and failure, truth and falsehood, excellence and mediocrity.

All pervasive occurrence

So does this lack of coherence and an inability to arrive at new norms of relationships leave us no choice but to build a nation-wide consensus on the need for a legal system to recognise and define child abuse?

More importantly, has the problem of child abuse reached a proportion and magnitude that it is beyond repair at the familial and societal level and now requires the firm and decisive intervention of the legal and human rights instruments? It is in this context that the evidence appears to be damning.

It is an all-pervasive occurrence inflicted on both girls and boys and assumes every possible form — from psychological, emotional, sexual, outright neglect to all manner of perversions and physical abuse.

In fact, we are being told in no uncertain terms that the Nithari incident is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg and, as a nation, we are possibly harbouring many such horrific incidents. However, even as we see Nithari as a great wake-up call, even as the government is now busy preparing a draft bill to prohibit "Offences Against Children," what the survey has indicated is a far deeper social malaise.

In fact, an equally disturbing trend and cause of concern is the numerous less known but equally poignant experiences that the child undergoes every day at the hands of teachers and other adults. Often caught between the urge to better their lives and finding it near impossible to get the necessary support from those who matter, millions of children have stopped dreaming of and aspiring to a better life.

Social activists involved in education-related issues find that in each class there are scores of children who have virtually dropped out. "They sit in the back, often in a state of trance, not wanting to participate in any process of learning and some do not even bother to open their bags and take out their books," said Mita Deshpande, a young researcher from Delhi associated with a project on quality of education in government schools.

Others are equally quick to add that this is not only rampant in government schools but also true for children studying in the so-called public or exclusive schools. This is particularly true for children with learning disabilities. Speaking in confidence, a parent, sharing her experience of having to deal with discriminatory teachers and school authorities, said, "Not a day goes by when I am not told what is wrong with my son and I am constantly amazed at how little they know or care to know about him. While as professionals they have a long way to go, it is their attitude as fellow human beings that leaves you with so little hope." According to her they often adopt the stance that offence is the best method of defence and therefore even before she turns around and asks them what they can do together to address the concerns of the child, they present a litany of woes, as if the child is misbehaving wilfully and deliberately.

Focus on child's rights

Clearly it is time that we give up the notion that parenting, mentoring and nurturing children is a private or institutional preserve and agree to bring it within the scope of a law that defines the rights and obligation that is firmly centred on the rights of the child. In the process, set right the age-old imbalances as far as the child is concerned. To begin with, get parents to stop taking for granted their "natural rights of ownership" over the child and assume that every kind of imposed behaviour is dictated for the future well being of the child.

Even more important, make the State far more accountable than it is today. Get the government to recognise that it has contributed to the current situation by under-investing and almost neglecting and ignoring the vital area of child protection.

India ratified the Child Rights Convention in 1992. However, much more needs to be done by way of embracing its spirit and ensuring that it trickles down into the existing legal framework and government schemes and policies. Further, such a child-centred legal framework needs to ensure a policy of zero tolerance for acts of violation against children while also providing for the effective protection and promotion of the rights of the child. For instance, even while addressing issues of child delinquency under the Juvenile Justice Act, most legal experts recognise the fact, that the Act has never considered the child as a legal entity with a right to self-expression and this has posed a major challenge for child-rights groups.

Speaking on behalf of CRY, a child rights advocacy organisation, K. Geeta, Deputy Manager, welcomed the government's move to legislate on this issue. "The issue has to be tackled at all levels, starting from the child, family, community, school, as well as law enforcers," she said. Given the enormity of the challenge, she added that not only should the legal and judicial system be geared to handle the issue of child sexual abuse, at a more practical level, an all out effort needs to be made to sensitise the police. They act as the first contact point for people seeking immediate relief. Therefore, they need to be made aware of the vulnerability of children and their responsibility towards them as law enforcers.

* * *

  • Two out of every three children are physically abused and every second child faced emotional abuse.

  • Of the 69 per cent of physically abused children, 54.68 per cent were boys. An equal percentage of boys and girls faced emotional abuse.

  • Of the children physically and emotionally abused in family situations, parental abuse constituted 88.6 per cent and 83 per cent respectively.

  • 65 per cent or two out of three children experienced corporal punishment.

  • Of the 53.22 per cent of children who faced one or more forms of sexual abuse, 5.6 per cent reported being sexually assaulted. The worst affected were children on streets, at work and in institutional care.

  • 50 per cent of the abusers were known to the child and in positions of trust and responsibility.

  • 32.1 per cent of children had experimented with one of the substances like alcohol, bhang, ganja, charas, heroin, smack.

  • Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi have almost consistently reported higher rates of abuse in all forms as compared to other States.

    Source: National Study on Child Abuse; Conducted by Prayas Institute of Juvenile Justice in collaboration with Ministry of Women and Child Development; Supported by UNICEF, Save the Children Fund (U.K.).

    Sample Respondents: 12,477 children, 2324 young adults, 2449 stakeholders.

    Location: Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Mizoram.

    Major findings of national study on Child Abuse
    THE HINDU, April 12th, 2007

    The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India is happy to share the report of the National Study on Child Abuse titled "Study on Child Abuse: INDIA 2007", which was launched by the Hon'ble Minister of State Smt. Renuka Chowdhury this afternoon.

    The aim of the study was to develop a dependable and comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of child abuse, with a view to facilitate the formulation of appropriate policies and programs meant to effectively curb and control the problem of child abuse in India. The National Study on Child Abuse is one of the largest empirical in-country studies of its kind in the world. This study also complements the UN Secretary General's Global Study on Violence against Children 2006.

    The initiative of the Ministry to conduct this study was supported by UNICEF and Save the Children. A Delhi based NGO, Prayas was contracted to design and conduct the research and submit a preliminary report. After the submission of the preliminary report, the MWCD appointed a Core Committee to review the complete data, analyze the findings and produce the final report along with recommendations.

    The study has provided revealing statistics on the extent and magnitude of various forms of child abuse- an area by and large unexplored. The study has also thrown up data on variations among different age groups, gender variations, state variations and variations within evidence groups. The findings will help to strengthen the understanding of all stakeholders including families, communities, civil society organizations and the state.

    Major Findings:
    1. Across different forms of abuse, and across different evidence groups, the younger children (5-12 years of age) have reported higher levels of abuse than the other two age groups.
    2. Boys, as compared to girls, are equally at risk of abuse
    3. Persons in trust and authority are major abusers
    4. 70% of abused child respondents never reported the matter to anyone

    Physical Abuse
    1. Two out of every three children are physically abused
    2. Out of 69% children physically abused in 13 sample states, 54.68% were boys
    3. Over 50% children in all the 13 sample states were being subjected to one or the other form of physical abuse
    4. Out of those children physically abused in family situations, 88.6% were physically abused by parents
    5. 65% of school going children reported facing corporal punishment i.e.two out of three children were victims of corporal punishment
    6. The State of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi have almost consistently reported higher rates of abuse in all forms as compared to other states
    7. Most children did not report the matter to anyone
    8. 50.2% children worked seven days a week

    Sexual Abuse
    1. 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
    2. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls.
    3. 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse.
    4. Out of the child respondents, 5.69% reported being sexually assaulted.
    5. Children in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
    6. Children on street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
    7. 50% abuses are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
    8. Most children did not report the matter to anyone

    Emotional Abuse and Girl Child Neglect
    1. Every second child reported facing emotional abuse
    2. Equal percentage of both girls and boys reported facing emotional abuse
    3. In 83% of the cases parents were the abusers
    4. 48.4% of girls wished they were boys

    The gravity of the situation demands that the issue of child abuse be placed on the national agenda. The Ministry on its part has taken measures such as the enabling legislation to establish the National and State Commissions for Protection of Rights of the Child, the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, the draft Offences against Children Bill etc. These are a few important steps to ensure protection of children of the country. But clearly, this will not be enough, the government, civil society and communities need to complement each other and work towards creating a protective environment for children. The momentum gained needs to enhance further discussion on the issue amongst all stakeholders and be translated into a movement to ensure protection of children of this country.

    The report can be accessed from the Ministry's website: http://www.wcd.nic.in/childabuse.pdf

    Two of every three children physically abused: study
    THE HINDU - 10th April, 2007

    NEW DELHI: With two of every three children facing some form of physical abuse, an official study, "Child Abuse: India 2007," has suggested that the issue be placed on the national agenda. Fifty per cent of the abusers are people known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility. The study, released by Minister for Women and Child Development (Independent charge) Renuka Chowdhury here on Monday, says children in the age group of 5 to 12 faced higher level of abuse. Over 70 per cent of the abused children did not report the matter to anyone.

    Andhra Pradesh has the highest percentage of almost all forms of abuse, followed by Assam, Bihar and Delhi. In the national capital, 87 per cent of young women reportedly faced one or more forms of emotional abuse during childhood.

    According to the report, of the 69 per cent children physically abused, 54.68 per cent were boys. And 88.6 per cent were abused by parents. Two of every three children were victims of corporal abuse in school. According to the study, 53.22 per cent children reported having faced some form of sexual abuse. Nearly 22 per cent child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 5.69 per cent reported being sexually assaulted. Children on streets, at work and in institutional care also reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.

    Every second child reported facing emotional abuse, irrespective of its sex. But 48.4 per cent of girls wished they were boys, suggesting that the abuse was more in the case of a girl child. In 83 per cent of the cases, parents were the abusers. "This is one report that we are releasing with a heavy heart," Ms. Chowdhury said. She asked State Governments to ban the sale of drugs and tobacco products, including gutka, to children as it caused serious diseases.

    The study has recommended legislation that will address all forms of abuse. It stressed on the need for a separate national child protection policy.

    The Ministry is likely to place before Parliament the draft Offences Against Children Bill. A website to track missing children is to be launched by July.

    The study, conducted jointly by the UNICEF, Save the Children and Prayas, covered over 13 States and 12,000 children.

    Close to 50 per cent of children face abuse, says study
    THE HINDU - 21st March, 2007

    Special Correspondent
    `It cuts across economic, social, and class barriers'

    • Menace defined under different categories
    • Child protection a low priority area

    NEW DELHI: Child abuse is widely prevalent in the country and close to 50 per cent face some forms of exploitation irrespective of their background, according to the National Child Abuse Study, the first of its kind on child abuse.

    Conducted by Prayas, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) for the Ministry of Women and Child Development, in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children Fund, the study suggests that 30 per cent are sexually abused by relatives or known persons, nearly 50 per cent are emotionally abused, 40 per cent physically and 60 per cent economically (including child labour).

    "This is the largest study on child abuse in India and the findings are being analysed by a Drafting Committee set up by the Women and Child Development Ministry before a final conclusion is arrived at," Prayas general secretary, Amod Kanth told The Hindu .

    Until now it was presumed that child abuse was prevalent only among street children or those in juvenile homes and orphanages.

    But the study has shown that it cuts across economic, social, and class barriers. Only the forms of abuse are different, Mr. Kanth said.

    While a child born in a well-to-do family may not face economic and physical abuse, he or she is prone to sexual and emotional abuse, the ones born under difficult conditions are vulnerable to all kinds of exploitation, he explained.

    The study, likely to be released by the end of this month, will be presented when the United Nations reviews the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) later this year.

    According to the survey, more than 40 per cent of the children have faced corporal punishment and at least 5 per cent of the respondents have resorted to substance (drugs) to cope with the sexual or physical trauma they were subjected to.

    Child abuse has been defined under different categories such as emotional that includes gender-based discrimination; sexual abuse that can range from fondling to rape; economic abuse as forced labour and physical abuse when force is used by people in position, be it parents or teachers.

    Covering 13 States including Delhi, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the survey interacted with about 16,800 children. Of these 13,000 were below 18 years, 3000 young adults (18-25 years) and about 800 stakeholders like the NGOs and those involved with children's issues.

    The study clearly brings out that child protection is a low priority area in the country with only a minuscule percentage of the annual expenditure (Rs. 215 crore last year) being spent on children.

    Rs. 2,000 crore sought for scheme

    However, this time round the Women and Child Development Ministry has sought Rs. 2,000 crore under the Eleventh Five Year Plan for implementation of the ambitious Integrated Child Protection Scheme.

    The study is expected to pave the way for the speedy implementation of the Scheme. There are close to 35 million children in the country living under difficult conditions, one-third of whom are destitute. In contrast, the total availability of shelters in the government and private sector is only for 36,500 children.

    Importantly, there is hardly any provision for children in the age group of 6-18 years while those below 6 years are covered under the Integrated Child Development Scheme.

     

    Articles about Child Sexual Abuse in India (by date published):

    • 2007

    - Give them back their childhood. April 22nd, 2007.

    - Full Text of National Study on Child Abuse - Child Abuse: India 2007. April 10th, 2007

    - More on the latest study entitled "Child Abuse: India 2007". April 10th, 2007.

    - Abuse of Indian children 'common' - BBC. April 9th, 2007.

    - Close to 50% of children in India face abuse, says latest study. March 21st, 2007.

    - India set for tough child abuse law. March 19th, 2007.

    - Australian national convicted of sexually abusing boys in Goa. March 3rd, 2007.

    - Move to check more Nitharis. February 27th, 2007. 

    - A Silence So Shrill - India's Largest Survey on Child Abuse. February 26th, 2007. 

    - Two Catholic priests talk about CSA in Goa. January 25th, 2007.

    - Microsoft campaign to help curb Child Sexual Abuse. January 19th, 2007. NEW!

    - Nithari, January 6th, 2007.

     

    • 2006   

     

    • 2005

     - Jessica's Law, USA.

     

    • Older

    - Facts for Families. July 2004.

    - CSA: Loopholes in the Law. May 6th, 2004. 

    - Innocence Abused. July 13th, 2003.

    - The Cry of Child Sexual Abuse. July 6th, 2003.

     

    General Readings:

    - The Art of Being Crabby. March 3rd, 2007.