KOMAL – A film on Child Sexual Abuse

KOMAL – A film on Child Sexual Abuse

Posted by Childline on Youtube

Komal is like any other bright, sensitive and happy 7-year-old. Her new neighbour- Mr. Bakshi, who moved in with his wife, is her father’s old friend. Komal bonds with the affable Mr.Bakshi with whom she has a whale of a time. Until, Komal discovers Mr.Bakshi’s bitter reality.

CHILDLINE  explains to children the concept of safe and unsafe touch, so that they can be better equipped to protect themselves and take help from trusted adults if ever caught in a similar situation.


Child sex abuse on the rise in Alappuzha -Kerala

Child sex abuse on the rise in Alappuzha


Sexual abuse against children is on the rise in the district. Following this, district panchayat, police and Alappuzha district child welfare committee (DCWC) are planning to execute special projects for curbing this menace.

Image taken from himabinduchitta.deviantart.com

On Saturday, two child molestation cases were reported in Alappuzha.

In the first case, a 27-year-old was arrested by police for molesting an eight-year-old girl. The accused was identified as Mahesh, Kuttichirayil House, Mannancherry grama panchayat. According to the police, Mahesh caught the girl when she was going to her home after tuition on Friday evening. He took the girl to paddy field and tried to molest her. But she somehow escaped from his hands and told the matter to her parents. He was arrested based on the complaint of the victim’s parents. He was sent to judicial custody.

In the second case, another youth was arrested and remanded for molesting a class VI student by  Cherthala police. Ajithkumar, 24, of Thykattusery panchayat, Cherthala was produced before Amabalappuzha judicial magistrate court judge Udhayakumar on Sunday and remanded in judicial custody.

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Comments : Child abuse is something that can happen in a rich/poor persons home. Parents should make sure that they create an environment by educating the children on how to identify when a stranger or a family member gets too close to their private parts. In most of the cases a known person in the community/relative/neighbor is involved in such crimes.

In order to avoid such incidents educating and creating a communicative atmosphere within the parents and children can change things. Step up and take an initiative.

We have also included an education video on child abuse  which may help you give an idea on how to go about it.

The sounds of silence-“Child sexual abuse in India”

SOURCE : http://infochangeindia.org/children/analysis/the-sounds-of-silence-child-sexual-abuse-in-india.html


53% of children in India face some form of child sexual abuse. To what extent will the new Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill help? And is it time for campaigners to replace ‘vulnerability’ with ‘oppression’ and ‘protection’ with ‘empowerment’ in the battle against CSA?

The recent sentencing of Alan  Waters and Duncan Grant to six years’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of  young boys who were in their care at the Anchorage  shelter in South Mumbai has once again drawn  our attention to the need for stringent legislation and action against those  who exploit children for sexual purposes.

Earlier this year, the  central government did draft such a legislation: the Protection of Children  Against Sexual Offences Bill was sent to the various states for consideration.  One version of the Bill became available to the press through sources at the  Ministry of Women and Child Development. One clause in particular (regarding  the decriminalizing of non-penetrative sexual exploration between children  older than 12) was much discussed in various public and media forums. Prior to  this, the sexual abuse of children became a matter of public interest following  publication of the report by the MWCD entitled ‘Study on Child Abuse India 2007’  which revealed that more than 53% of children in India have probably been sexually  abused and many have never shared the fact of this abuse with anyone.

Image taken from indiatoday.intoday.in

Periodically therefore, when  there is a report that generates public interest or a high-profile case of paedophilia,  the sexual abuse of children becomes a matter of public concern and often of  anger and indignation. As Chris Jenks points out in his essay published in 1996, [I]Suffer Little Children: A Sociological Analysis  of Changing Attitudes to Child Abuse in the Late-Twentieth Century’ child  abuse is one of those topics/issues in response to which “normative assumptions  inherent in the notions of ‘decency’ and ‘right-mindedness’ are automatically  invoked”.

The present article focuses  on the issue of child sexual abuse in India as a sociological one. There are  several arguments made in the field of childhood studies on the linkages  between the notions of Child and Nation and the overloading of nostalgia and  romance that surrounds the trope of Childhood. In that discourse the public  furore and the similarity of response among various stakeholders is read as an  automatic defence of discourses concerning   “stability, integration and the social bond”. In itself, this approach  contains much to learn from and take cognisance of for all those who engage in  various ways with this issue. However, this makes for a separate argument and  article altogether. For the moment, it is necessary to understand the extent of  the problem of CSA in India  and the ways in which child protection mechanisms of the state and civil  society engage with it.

What is child sexual abuse?

According to the World Health Organisation, child sexual  abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not  fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or that violates the  laws or social taboos of society.

Image taken from surahmar.wordpress.com

It  is important at this stage, to separate the broader issue of child abuse from  the specific one of child sexual abuse. Child abuse may be emotional, mental,  physical or sexual and encompasses a much wider gamut of actions. Child sexual abuse  is that which targets sexuality and/or sexual organs, involves sexual gestures,  words, pictures, actions. Children who have faced some amount of sexual abuse   53%  Children who report having been sexually assaulted  6%  Cases where    the abuser was in a relationship of trust with the child   50% While releasing  the report on child abuse in India,  Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury said, “Child abuse is  shrouded in secrecy and there is a conspiracy of silence around the entire  subject.” This is only one of the many problems faced by those working in  social development, legislation and justice, both in government and  non-government bodies. The above-mentioned report for instance says, “One of the major problems in understanding the scope of  the subject of ‘child abuse’ is that it is extremely difficult to get responses  from children on such a sensitive subject because of their inability to fully  understand the different dimensions of child abuse and to talk about their experiences.  It is therefore difficult to gather data on abused children.” Child rights  activists argue that the problem may not be the child’s inability to speak  about sensitive subjects, as much as the lack of skills on the part of the  questioners to create the environment and the trust required to enable the  child to share his/her experiences.

Child sexual abuse in India

Currently,  the Indian Constitution recognises various crimes against children that are  linked to their sexual abuse – The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act that protects  children below the age of 16 from being used for the purposes of commercial  sex. The Juvenile Justice Act Section 26 (Exploitation of Juvenile or Child  Employee) provides for punishment if a person procures a juvenile for hazardous  employment. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act also makes punishable the practice  of marrying girls under the age of 18 and boys under the age of 21. In addition  to these legislations there is also a commission for the protection of the rights  of children which inquires into various violations of child rights and  recommends initiation of proceedings as seen necessary.

It  is important to understand that sexual offences against children can and are  committed in all the above situations – marriage, trafficking, employment —  and in many more. It is equally important to understand the kinds of social and  legislative circumstances that allow for and may even be a reason for sexual  abuse. Interactions with people in slums in urban centres for instance, reveals  that many get their children married young to protect them from sexual abuse. Once  a girl attains puberty she begins to be seen as sexually available. For some  parents marriage is the only way to ensure that the girl is ‘unavailable’ to  others for abuse.

Among  the Naths of Bihar, prostitution is a way of life. When a family doesn’t have a  daughter, girls are purchased from other parts of the state and pushed into sex  work so that the family can live off their earnings. Children who work as  domestic labour, or help in hotels and restaurants, are susceptible to sexual  abuse at the hands of employers and customers. In addition to these situations,  children across caste and class lines are vulnerable within their families, to  abuse from relatives and friends of the family.

A number  of children go missing every year – some are sold by their families, some are  kidnapped, others lured by the promise of a better life both for themselves and  their kin. According to CRY (Child Rights and You)

8,945 children go missing in India every  year 500,000 children are estimated to be  forced into the sex trade every yearApproximately 2 million child commercial  sex workers are between the ages of 5 and 15 years Approximately 3.3 million child  commercial sex workers are between 15 and 18 years Children form 40% of the total population  of commercial sex workers80% of these children are found in the  five metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai  and Bangalore]71% of them are illiterate.

It  is thus apparent that a network of deprivations and vulnerabilities – poverty,  age, gender, caste, lack of safe spaces, lack of schools, lack of proper  institutional care for children without functional families — create situations  where children are sexually exploited. While some psychologists do argue that  violators are ‘psychopathic’ or ‘dysfunctional’ in various ways, it is  important to identify and engage with the many ways in which children become  disempowered in our society so that they are seen as easy targets of sexual  oppression.

Vulnerability or oppression?

Jenny  Kitzinger ([I]Defending Innocence:  Ideologies of Childhood[/I]) critiques the over-emphasis on children’s vulnerability  and the resulting lack of control that children have over their bodies.  According to her, “…the notion of children’s innate vulnerability…is an  ideology of control which diverts attention away from the socially constructed  oppression of children…” She suggests that as a first step we replace notions  of ‘vulnerability’ with ‘oppression’ or ‘powerlessness’ and discourses of  ‘protection’ with those of ‘empowerment’. Going a step further, she denounces  the practice of telling a child that s/he “can say ‘no’”. At best she feels  that this is an individualist solution. At worst, it is giving the child a  sense that s/he can resist a power that in reality, s/he can probably not.

As a  society, it is important to recognise that the sexual exploitation of children  is fundamentally about power. For instance, the case of a 15-year-old girl who  was raped by a policeman in Mumbai shows clearly how both power and the lack of  it collude to render children vulnerable. The victim is from a poor family and  was to be ‘helped’ by the person who took her to the policeman for sexual exploitation.  Her assaulter was not only male and adult, but also a policeman – someone  considered very powerful by the aam aadmi  in the city.

Those  who target children realise that they are less likely to speak about the incident/s,  that even if they do few will believe them, that even if they are believed  there may be little that community members will do about it, that even if some  action is taken there are loopholes in court processes that can be availed of. In  the Anchorage  case for instance, despite several articulate lawyers and activists being  involved in the entire process on behalf of the children who were abused, the  High Court saw the children as ‘unreliable witnesses’.

Legislation to protect children from sexual  abuse

In  order to address various circumstances and degrees of sexual offences against  children, in 2005, the Offences Against Children Bill was drafted. In 2007, the law ministry  rejected the bill saying that there was no reason for a separate enactment  since the various issues the bill focussed on were already covered by other  legislations. In 2009 discussions anchored by TULIR Centre for the Prevention  and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse led to the framing of a specific bill for  sexual offences against children. The Protection of Children from Sexual  Offences Bill has currently been sent to the state governments for  consideration.

Image taken from timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The  draft of the Prevention of Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2011 delineates various  kinds of sexual abuse and the prescribed response to each under the law. It  clearly distinguishes between sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, penetrative  sexual assault, aggravated penetrative sexual assault and sexual harassment. In  each case, the kinds of actions that fall under the section are specified, and  minimum and maximum punishments given. In the final section of the Bill, there  is a detailed section that lists responsibilities of various dutybearers to the  child — police officers, child support services, medical officer and case  worker. It also lists the protocol to be followed by police and medical  practitioners, as well as during court processes.

1. It acknowledges  and engages with sexual crimes of all kinds — real/virtual; penetrative/ non-  penetrative; homosexual/heterosexual/ bestial; verbal/ physical. Pro:  This is a major improvement on the earlier situation, when child sexual abuse  was clubbed with sexual  abuse of adults. It acknowledges that sexual violations can be of various kinds and that in  the case of children, the state must take a clear punitive stand on any kind of sexual  violation. Con: People  who provide support to victims of CSA often prefer that the distinction be between contact  and non-contact sexual offences. They feel this detailing may offer loopholes in implementation  that are not being foreseen currently. 2. It is gender-inclusive,  accepting that the perpetrators as well as the victims may be either male or  female. Pro: It  is otherwise commonly assumed that sexual abuse can only be initiated by a male upon a female child. The recent study on CSA by the Government  of India indicates that boys possibly face more sexual abuse than girls. 3. It puts the  onus of innocence on the accused Pro:  Under this Bill, the person accused of CSA would need to prove his innocence rather than having to be  proven guilty. This would imply that a person once accused of CSA would be assumed  guilty until proven otherwise. Some activists feel that this provision is necessary to  protect victims and to ensure that the process focuses on procuring justice for children. Con: While the intent behind the provision is  probably to ensure that the pressure of proof does not rest on the victim, many  have raised objection to it stating that it is in violation of a fundamental  principle of justice in India  – that a person is innocent until proven guilty. 4. It specifies  timeframes within which each state must have the required mechanisms and bodies  in place to enable it to be responsive towards cases of child sexual abuse Pro:  The length of the legal process has been a recurrent problem especially with criminal cases where  children are victims. Under this Bill, there will be separate courts in   place within six months, and these courts will  have a set of child support systems in place  to ensure that the judicial process is responsive. Con:  This puts additional pressure on an already overburdened judicial system,  creating yet another  parallel track for them to cater to. Instead of facilitating justice, it might  be another excuse to delay  it. 5. It puts  guidelines in place for major stakeholders in the process, in an attempt to  ensure processes that are sensitive to the child but that also respect the  right of the child to state her/his case/ experience. Pro: The Bill’s attention to detail  leaves no room for abdication of responsibility by those involved in the process of  protection of children. Con: The excessive focus on  processes and requirements for specialists duplicates much of what is in the Juvenile Justice Act and  only ensures that the process of getting the  Bill passed will overwhelm the reason for its existence. Several civil  society actors have given their feedback on the Bill. HAQ: Centre for Child  Rights welcomes the Bill but requests that it be opened up for consultation by the parliamentary committee  dealing with it as there is still scope for strengthening it. FACSE (Forum  Against Child Sexual Exploitation) believes that it might be preferable to  introduce changes to the IPC rather than formulate an entirely new legislation.  This stand comes from their experience of the challenges posed for  implementation, especially in smaller cities/ towns and villages where basic  judicial processes are flawed and systems missing. “In Mumbai, there will be  pressure to ensure implementation. But what will happen in other cities, where  often police and other stakeholders are not even aware of provisions for  children under the JJ Act, which is now 10 years old.”

Despite this  concern regarding operationalising the Bill, almost all stakeholders accept  that the current legislation is insufficient to deal with the many  circumstances in which children are sexually abused. There is also an  acknowledgement that social workers, superintendents of residential homes,  wardens, counsellors, teachers and family members all need training and  sensitising to the issue and that a minimum set of actions be put in place  enabling people to help a child who is being sexually exploited. It is only by  continuing to hear what children say and develop more ways of hearing them and  enabling them, that mechanisms can be created to address their exploitation and  punish their violators.

(Havovi Wadia is a development professional with  experience in the field of child rights and human rights. She is currently a PhD  student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

Infochange News & Features, March 2011

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