In 2007 for the first time, a government-sponsored survey was conducted and the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The Government of India published its results with a title Study on Child Abuse: INDIA 2007. The study based on interviews with 12,500 children in 13 different states, furnished the information on the extent and magnitude of child abuse and girl child neglect in India. This empirical study has established beyond doubt that child abuse exists in India and the incidence is much higher than generally perceived. The purpose of the study was also to provide the information that will help government to formulate, legislation, schemes and interventions to deal with the problem. It took another 5 years (May 2012) for India’s parliament to take a major step to pass the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Under this law, all forms of child sexual abuse are now specific criminal offenses for the first time ever in India.
The situation of child sexual abuse is alarming, the vast majority of victims (72 %) said that they did not tell anyone. Only 3 % reported to the police.
53.22% of the children have faced sexual abuse. Out of this 21.90% have faced severe forms of sexual abuse. 50% of the perpetrators are known to the child and are in a position of trust and responsibility. The abusers are mostly relatives living in the same house, or people from the neighbourhood. Schools, and residential facilities for orphans and homes for vulnerable children also put children at risk. Street children, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault. Many are maltreated a second time by the criminal justice system that does not believe their accounts, or does not take serious action against the perpetrators. The then Women and Child Development Minister, Renuka Chowdhury, said that child sexual abuse in India, “is shrouded in secrecy and there is a conspiracy of silence around the entire subject.”
Who hears this silent cry? Who will wipe their tears?
Sr Anna Mary Thumma
CCP Research Assistant