As she walked past the house, a sense of doom filled her. She automatically slowed down, her breath coming in gasps. Even after all the years, even after the hours and hours of therapy, she simply couldn’t get over it. Her past loomed over her present haunting her. The years of abuse had left her socially inadept. The sight of the male species disgusted her and sent shivers down her spine.
This is the story of every child who is a survivor of the monstrous deed of child sexual abuse (CSA). There is no universal definition of child sexual abuse. However, a central characteristic of any abuse is the position of a dominant adult that forces or coerces a child into sexual activity. In an age where a child should be frolicking around, she/he is made to realize the bitter truth of reality. Most of the times they are too naïve to even grasp the gravity of the situation. In India, the issue of child sexual abuse is never really discussed in the open, let alone in front of children. It is because of this ignorance, this lack of awareness that makes the child even more vulnerable .As a child, we’ve been taught to respect the elders and never question their authority or decisions. We are not even aware of this dark, sinister side of reality. According to an article published by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the youngest sex abuse victim was just 19 days old. Horrified aren’t you; I was too. India has the reputation of having the world’s largest number of sexually abused children; with a child below 16 years raped every 155th minute, a child below 10 every 13th hour and one in every 10 children sexually abused at any point of time.
The much-talked-about show – Satyamev Jayate hosted by the eloquent Amir Khan, in its first season aired an episode focusing on child abuse. This episode also included a workshop for children to create awareness about the subject; A first in its kind .The children were told that there are three “danger zones” (private parts) on everyone’s body. These include the chest, area between the legs and the bottom. The children were advised to shout and run to a safe place, and immediately inform a person whom they trust (preferably parents) in case any unwanted person tries to touch them in these areas. Following the broadcast of this episode, the helpline for children received an increased number of calls from all over the country, reporting child abuse.
It can be very difficult to talk about sexual abuse and even more difficult to acknowledge that sexual abuse of children of all ages including infants happen every day. The most common questions that come up are: Who are these abusers? Why do they do it? What kind of pleasure do they derive from it?Most men who commit sexual offenses know their victim, with almost half of the offenders being a relative or a family friend rather than a stranger. 9 out of 10 children know their abuser. In the majority of cases, the abuser gain access to their victims through deception and enticement, seldom using force and the abuse escalates over time While some offenders do seek sexual gratification from the act power, control, and anger are more likely to be the primary motivators. A traumatic childhood may also be another reason.
The impact of sexual abuse can range from no apparent effects to very severe ones. Sexual abuse robs children of their childhood and creates a loss of trust, feelings of shame and guilt, nightmares, bed-wetting and self-abusive behavior. It can lead to antisocial behavior, depression, identity crisis, withdrawal from family and friends and other serious emotional problems. The past is never dead and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often adopt coping mechanisms to deal with feelings of terror and helplessness that they may have felt as a child; The effects of CSA manifest themselves in adult life in the form of grieving, mourning, aloofness, self-inflicted injuries and much more.
Recovery from CSA is a complicated and controversial concept. A child may not say anything because they think it is their fault, that no one will believe them, or that they will be teased or punished.The child may even care for an abusing adult and may fear losing him/her to the consequences of the truth being told. A child who is being abused may be very confused about their feelings and rationalize, or be persuaded, that what is happening is ‘normal’. Children who have been sexually abused may show a variety of signs. They may try to tell you about abuse through hints or clues. Such as if they suddenly start to behave differently, suffer from sleeping disorders, wet or soil their bed, avoid being alone with a particular family member. Instead of ignoring these vital signs and clues we must make sure that we talk to the child to help them understand about their bodies and sex and build an open and trusting relationship with them, so they feel they can talk to us about anything
Child sexual abuse laws in India have been enacted as part of the nation’s child protection policies. The Parliament of India passed the ‘Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011′ regarding child sexual abuse on May 22, 2012 into Act. The rules formulated by the government in accordance with the law have also been notified on 14th November 2012 and the law has become ready for implementation. The new Act, provides for a variety of offenses under which an accused can be punished. It recognizes forms of penetration other than peno-vaginal penetration and criminalizes acts of immodesty against children too. With respect to pornography, the Act criminalizes even watching or collection of pornographic content involving children. The Act makes abetment of child sexual abuse an offense. It also provides for various procedural reforms, making the tiring process of trial in India considerably easier for children. However, the Act has been criticized as its provisions seem to criminalize consensual sexual intercourse between two people below the age of 18.