Child Sexual Abuse In India: Situation &Recent Case Law

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Written By: Khwahish Khurana

Introduction

The safest place a child could be is his own home. But what if it becomes the most haunting place in this entire world for him. The real well-wishers are our own parents, but what if a child could not trust his/her own parents. In everyday scenarios, we unknowingly come across a lot of such children. Like the children who beg on the streets, having scars and bruises on their bodies. Do we ever think that they might be getting abused every day of their lives or maybe forced into all this? Petrifying, isn’t it?

Laws & Recent Case

Even while thinking about such a scenario, we get goosebumps but what about those children who become a victim of sexual abuse. Childhood is the most sensitive and innocent period in a Persons’ life. It is the base of his future development and hence should be protected at any cost. Acts like POCSO (a special act for children) aim towards protecting a child. It advocates safer policies to ensure a child’s protection in society from any kind of sexual abuse.

The act came into force in 2012 and many sections of this act were amended in 2019. Stricter punishments were introduced to stop such cruelty against children. In pushpa v. ganediwala, a 2019 case wherein a 12 yr old was sexually assaulted by her neighbor. He invited the girl by promising to give her guava. The accused grabbed her breasts and tried to open her salwar as stated by the girl’s mother who came to the crime scene and witnessed everything. She immediately filed a case against the man. The man was punished in 2020 under section 7 of the POCSO act.

Sexual abuse is a silent killer. It leaves an invisible scar that takes a long time to heal and in many cases it never does. These children suffer their whole life from trauma which includes mental illness, depression, or flashbacks from such horrifying incidents, etc. Recent studies show that 90% of child abusers are known to the child including relatives, neighbors, family friends, etc. In the case of Pushpa V. Ganediawala 2019, Satish (the accused) was a neighbor of the victim. Additionally In Chandigarh, a 12yr old was raped by a salesman who was known to the girl and also admitted sexually assaulting other minors as well.

There’s no limit to such cases. According to reports on crime in India, every 15 minutes a child becomes a victim of sexual abuse. In 2016, home minister Rajnath Singh highlighted, in Delhi 106,958 cases were recorded of child abuse. Many of such incidents don’t even get reported because of reasons including parent’s fear of society or lack of awareness amongst the family or the child did not inform the parents and so forth.

Child sexual abuse happens more than people think. People neglect such things by saying that this won’t happen with their child but reports show, ⅔ children never inform their parents or guardian about the same. Child abusers often use threats or bribery to keep such children quiet. Moreover, people ignore the fact that child sexual abuse can also happen with male children and that it has nothing to do with gender. Most studies revealed sexual abuse with a male child is higher or similar to that of a girl child.

Masculinity plays a massive role or is the biggest reason why such cases don’t get highlighted enough. But with the evolution of POCSO, which is a gender-neutral act, now the cases are being reported and are coming into the public eye. When we stand with the victims, assure them that they aren’t alone or when such cases are talked about, more people feel comfortable voicing it out.

Conclusion

It is the parent’s job to find out if the child is going through or ever faced such a thing. Society should learn to honor the victims and the ones that protect them. Once someone is abused, it seems to happen more to them if they don’t know how to deal with it or how to defend themselves. Children need to be educated on what to do when such a scenario happens to them and how to defend themselves in such a case. Schools should educate children on warning signs, good and bad touch needs to be explained to kids so they are aware of what’s happening to them. Also, parents should be educated on how to help a kid heal from the trauma. There should be more awareness about the existing law so parents know whom to approach in such cases.

The worst thing a person can do is sexually abuse someone and the parents who care about “what will people think” ? are just as guilty. People need to understand, it’s not the victim’s fault. A disease, when diagnosed, needs to be treated, likewise, the child needs to be healed from the trauma so that it does not haunt him throughout his life. The home environment should be such that a child can talk and tell each and everything to their parents without any hesitation. Being in denial won’t help the children. It is fatal so let’s talk about the discomfort in order to prevent such crimes in the future.


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