India Must Do More to Prevent Child Sex Abuse, Report Says

The Indian government must combat the “conspiracy of silence” around child sex abuse, Human Rights Watch says.

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One of the more disturbing things to come to light since the Dec. 16 Delhi gang rape is just how many cases of sexual violence in India involve children. In the media’s ongoing effort to keep attention on the problem of sexual assault, the fact that children are so frequently the victims of brutal sexual attacks has provided yet another rude wake up call, and a grim reminder that the cases coming to light are only a small part of a much bigger problem. (Have a look at the rolling headlines at the bottom of this page of the Times of India.) “There is a lot of attention on sexual violence now,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, on Thursday. “We need to focus the attention on the sexual abuse of children.”

That is the goal of a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The Feb. 7 report calls for the government to do more to protect children from sexual abuse. In more than 100 interviews, case studies of multiple child victims lay bare the pervasive institutional weaknesses and attitudes that have created a “conspiracy of silence” around child sex abuse in India.  According to UNICEF, one in three rape victims in India is a child, and more than 7200 children are raped each year, with many more cases believed to go unreported. In 2007, a government-sponsored survey of 12,500 children in 13 states “reported serious and widespread sexual abuse,” but found that only 3% of the cases in which children said they had been abused had been reported to the police.

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That serious under-reporting is due in large part to how victims are treated once they do make the difficult choice to come forward. In four of the cases documented in the report, victims said doctors had used the much-maligned “finger test” to determine whether they had been raped or not. This type of examination is permitted under current Indian law but is of little forensic value and risks re-traumatizing the victim. Doctors routinely showed outright insensitivity to the young victims, a fact that regularly discouraged families from pursuing their cases legally, the report found.

Reported cases can be met with callousness by the cops. Indian law mandates that every police station have a trained child welfare officer, and that every district have units to deal with juvenile cases. But the efficacy of the units varies wildly, particularly in under-resourced districts. In one case detailed in the HRW report, a 12-year-old girl named Krishna was raped by a man from a neighboring village in eastern Uttar Pradesh. When she went to report the crime, she says she was detained by police for nearly two weeks. “I was kept in the police station and locked up,” she told the rights group. “They kept insisting that I change my statement, otherwise they threatened that something would happen to me.” For cases that do make it to court, the legal process can be excruciatingly painful and slow for families, and convictions are rare, according to the Childline India Foundation.

(MOREIndia’s New Rape Laws Draw Flak from Rights Groups)

The government has made moves to strengthen its laws on child sex abuse, as well as its institutions protecting the rights of children. Last year, it passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, a landmark law that made all forms of sexual abuse against children criminal offenses for the first time in India. Child rights are also overseen by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a watchdog group set up by the government after the bodies of at least 19 children and young women who had gone missing over a period of months from a slum were found in an affluent neighborhood near New Delhi in 2006.

A large part of the challenge in combating child sex abuse will be making sure that India’s laws and recommendations are implemented throughout the legal system. It will also be creating an entirely new way of thinking about the problem. “There is such a culture of silence that even if a child wants to report what happens to her, she doesn’t have the words,” says Shantha Sinha, the chairperson of the NCPCR. “And it’s not just the victim that doesn’t have the vocabulary…We need to build a new script.”

(MOREIndia: After New Delhi Gang Rape, Should the Culprits Be Executed?)

26 comments
agtunn
agtunn

it is not only india all the asia country need to care the issue!


igodaoul
igodaoul

@TIME @TIMEWorld Kill them. Child molesters are the lowest low and deemed unfit to live

lvy2
lvy2

@TIME @TIMEWorld no human right is there in india all the single joined the kumbh mela

keithbarry1959
keithbarry1959

@time @timeworld @BobMenendez has assured us those rumours are false..

MahmoudGouda9
MahmoudGouda9

@TIME @TIMEWorld US is the major market for such a things , don't pretend as if u r a civilized nation , plz stop porn then w'll talk,

iliketrains1010
iliketrains1010

@TIME @timeworld well if it's still prevalent, of course more needs to be done! It needs not to exist!

JC_Cali
JC_Cali

@TIME @TIMEWorld YES! And the @enditmovement can help!

Tourville
Tourville

@TIME @TIMEWorld OUR SENATE CHOSE AN UNMANAGED ECONOMY WHEN IT LEGALIZED OFF SHORING THE usMFG BASE USHERING IN UNSOLVABLE DEBT_UNEMPLOYMENT

ScottWan
ScottWan

Rickshawpuller shot at in West Bengal for protesting against harassment

Barasat, West Bengal, February 09, 2013: A young rickshawpuller was shot at for protesting against harassment of two school girls at Bonhoogly in the northern outskirts of Kolkata on Saturday.

ScottWan
ScottWan

Woman raped, forced into flesh trade in Mumbai

Mumbai, February 09, 2013: A woman was allegedly raped by her uncle and cousin for nine years and forced her into flesh trade, police said in Mumbai on Saturday.

Marisol100
Marisol100

As long as politicians and police authorities continue to minimize and trivialize the nature of these abhorrent, vile crimes, these atrocities will continue unabated, and your country will remain a third world country, with half of its population free to continue perpetuating their heinous, depraved, savage sexual crimes against women and children with impunity. SHAME ON YOU, INDIA and shame on all of you who accept and practice this misogynistic, patriarchal attitude towards women!!

Any man who rapes is an abhorrent, sick poison and scourge of society and he should be hanged. Not incarcerated--HANGED. That would serve as a deterrent to other vile, despicable rapists for their heinous, evil crimes against women and children.INDIA—WHERE IS YOUR SHAME??

Marisol100
Marisol100

An 11-year old young girl from Jaipur was violently brutalized in a gang rape in Sikar in August, 2012 by Ramesh Sharma and Suresh Jat.Their four accomplices were released on bail and eventually the case was set aside. Meanwhile, the little girl has had to undergo 12 painful reconstructive surgeries over several months to repair massive internal injuries caused by the gang rape. Her internal organs were badly ruptured and she required major reconstructive surgeries to her abdominal area and genitals. She still requires reconstruction of her rectum and a colostomy. There is a dangerous risk of infection. The family has been threatened to drop the complaint. How bad does it have to get before India faces up to and fixes its utterly failed and collapsed system?

Marisol100
Marisol100

I have read the shocking story of the four little girls, one as young as 5, who were brutally raped by a sadistic 40-year old grocery store owner, Rabi Lochan Dey, in West Bengal's Bankura district on January 3, 2013. The little ones had gone to Dey’s grocery store to buy a cake. On the pretense of giving them cake, he called them to a side room and savagely raped them. The crime only came to light when blood was passed in the urine of one little girl.

What of the 2-year old Vadodara toddler raped by 32 year old Keshav Joshi? After barbarically raping her, he threw her away into the bushes. The toddler passed away 3 days later on December 25, 2012.

It’s shocking, it’s outrageous, and it’s utterly despicable that the Indian government and police authorities have been so complacent for so long. Your rapists—your young men—outshine the Taliban in Afghanistan. SHAME ON YOU!

b
b

Dear Ms Mahr

While everything you write and more may be true, please do ask the Vatican, the US and UK courts to be a bit more proactive for similar crimes. The Vatican is the richest religious institution  in the world, surely it can start compensating and helping its victims. India is doing something and doing it now: what about them?  Surely the billions of church-goers have some say over their clergy, more than, say, in a democracy? In India, the Church has refused any investigation of such crimes since 'Christians are a minority'. As for Islam and US allies like S Arabia, their records are impeccable, what? 

Why not work on answers and tell us what has worked well and where? What has happened after the Nat Geog reported on 10, 000 child prostitutes in NYC alone. Or NKristoff's report? What was  done? 

Already on Mumbai's streets, many men are very careful to walk far from women and avoid getting entangled in complaints. Is there  a long way ahead, yes. Is India doing something, anything, positive? Yes.

ScottWan
ScottWan

Gang raped, uterus removed, 22-yr-old fights for life

Dehradun, February 06, 2013 : A 22-year-old woman in Uttarakhand is battling for her life in a hospital after being gangraped and left with a damaged uterus, other internal injuries and multiple bite marks on her body, police said on Tuesday.

NaomiRod5867
NaomiRod5867

@jasonofthesea @TIME @TIMEWorld what about Russia, Romania, India & Hungary they should be in this piece as well! SHAMELESS!!!!