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venerdì 19 maggio 2017
1 in every 2 children in India is a victim of sexual abuse
A survey participated in by more than 45,000 children in the 12- 18 age group, across 26 states in the country, revealed that one in every two children is a victim of child sexual abuse.
The survey conducted by humanitarian aid organisationWorld Vision India with a sample of 45,844 respondents also revealed that one in every five do not feel safe because of the fear of being sexually abused.
It also said that one in four families do not come forward to report child abuse.
"Despite one in every two children being a victim of child sexual abuse, there continues to be a huge silence. The magnitude of sexual violence against children is unknown," World Vision India National Director Cherian Thomas said in New Delhi while launching a campaign to end child sexual abuse and exploitation by 2021.
"The campaign works through our area programmes that deal with different issues of health care typically -- malnutrition and early illness, education, child rights and protection and the improvement of resilience in communities," Thomas told IANS.
"The area programmes are based in 186 districts that we operate in," he added.
Thomas said that the campaign will draw people from all walks of life to ensure a safe environment for children.
Children are given training in different aspects, where they are taught about the good touch and the bad touch and various other relevant aspects, he said.
"With 98 per cent of rapes being committed by people known to the children, I feel it is time that we all come under one banner and umbrella to focus our work around child protection," he said.
"We are going to work along with other civil society organisations, and child rights organisations. People are sensitized over the issue of economic resilience as most of these abuse cases are a result of inadequate economic resilience in communities," he explained.
Child rights campaigners say although child sex abuse is rampant in the country, there is a deafening social silence because the abusers are usually caregivers or persons in trust — parents, close relatives, or those known to the child such as teachers and neighbors.
In a conservative society, the problem often remains confined within the four walls of the home — either the children are too scared to talk about it or parents are resistant to complain.
“It is something people like to keep a secret, there is a stigma attached to it,” says Cherian Thomas, Director of World Vision India. Among the very few cases that do get reported, he said, “some of the reports are very horrific, because it involves very young children.”
The scale of the problem is widespread — a 2007 government survey found that 53 percent of children had faced some form of sexual abuse.
A more recent one conducted by World Vision India among 45,000 children revealed this bleak picture has not changed over the years.
“I do believe it is an epidemic, I believe it can be prevented, I believe it needs to be treated as an epidemic which means it has to be dealt with on a war footing,” said Anuja Gupta whose RAHI Foundation began working in the area of child sex abuse two decades ago when the problem was barely acknowledged.
And contrary to popular perception, it is not just girls who are abused. “The bulk of the time, the perpetrators are male, the victims however can be both girls and boys,” said Thomas. And those from affluent families are as much at risk as those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Given the reluctance to confront the issue, child rights campaigners say most perpetrators get away with their crimes.
With cases seldom bring reported, there are growing calls for educational and training institutions to incorporate child sexual abuse awareness programs in their curriculum.
A senior police officer in New Delhi, Robin Hibu, said institutions like family, school, places of worship and community leaders will have to play a greater role given the fact that police cannot intervene unless cases are brought to their attention.
“If anybody can be taught about what is good touch, bad touch, what is the way the child should be encouraged,” he said. “You have to instill the confidence in the child, and we have to involve the parents, involve the teachers.”
In city slums, abuse takes place because mothers often have to leave young children unattended when they go to work – as did the mother of the 10-year-old who became pregnant. The stepfather, in his twenties, took advantage of her absence.
Komal, who came to New Delhi from her village 10 years ago and works as a part-time housemaid, was not surprised when she heard the report of the young 10-year-old girl being sexually abused by her stepfather. She said it is common knowledge in her slum that such abuse takes place.
“We have to take great care of our girls. I only leave my two daughters with my sister,” she said.
Campaigners say on the plus side more people are waking up to the problem, and more survivors of child abuse are stepping forward to talk about it.
And while the five million children World Vision aims to reach is, as Director Thomas said, “a small drop in the larger ocean” of a country of 1.3 billion people, campaigners hope it will become a movement which will get the whole country involved.