Child Sexual Abuse: Myths and Facts

What is Child Sexual Abuse?

A child or young person is sexually abused when someone in a position of power or authority takes advantage of a person’s trust and respect to involve them in sexual activity.

Once upon a time

There was a little girl in yellow frock

She was going to a bakery for her morning tea

She saw a pack of dogs were running free

Just then a 40ish man came to help her , u see !

On the way , he tried to kiss her , shamelessly

She cried and cried , and ran to her home hurriedly

That day she made a pledge

Never to fear a dog – human or animal whatever it be

Once upon a time

There was a little girl in yellow frock

That little girl was me    

Why should I be concerned about it?

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  1. 19% of the world’s children live in India, which constitutes 42% of India’s total population.
  2. Every 2nd child in India is sexually abused.
  3. India has the world’s largest number of sexually abused children, an astonishing 69%, or 276 million children
  4. 50% of cases of abuse are by persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
  5. In one study, child sex abuse is at least 10% more among boys than girls.
  6. 70% of abused children never report the matter to anyone.
  7. A child is molested every 30 minutes in India

Living as a sexually abused child

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Children who are getting abused

  • Irrational Anger
  • Too much fear/attachment with the abuser
  • Prefer to be alone
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Live in fear
  • Show some emotional signals
  • Undergo physical Changes

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Victims who were abused in childhood and are adults now

  • Feel victimzed their entire entire life
  • They make have depression or OCD
  • They feel they did something wrong and deserved it
  • Suicidial
  • Drug/medication abuse
  • Struggle in their future relationships

 Refuting myths and perceptions surrounding CSA

Child sexual exploitation is something that is done to girls and young women. Boys are victims too. May be they get reported less than girls.
It only happens in certain dysfunctional families or ethnic groups. Perpetrators come/target from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Sexual Offenders are easily identifiable. They look like ‘one’. That ‘Lawyer Uncle, ‘Bostonwale mamaji’ anyone, ANYONE can be an abuser!
They are mostly strangers. 90% times abusers are known to the families.
Good girls never get abused. Too much ‘western culture’ is doing this to us. Molesters are not culture conscious. They lurk for the opportunity to molest.
It is mother’s failure if the child is abused. She didn’t protect her child well. Majority of the reported abuse incidents are from single-mother families.
Child Sexual abuse is less prevalent in rural areas or elite groups. It is widespread in India across cities & villages affecting rich and poor equally.
If I will report the sexual abuse, my child’s reputation will be tarnished. Sexual Offenders know this sentiment so well and this makes them fearless.  Adopt ‘Name and Shame’ policy. Remember it is the abuser who should be ashamed and not the child.
It is better for my children to have minimum exposure to outer world to avoid these abuses. Restricting their childhood can hinder their social and mental growth.

 

Preventive actions by parents and educators:

  • Call a spade a spade! Don’t nickname private body parts.
  • Teach children right body anatomy.
  • Explain children difference between fear and respect. Don’t fear your elders! Say No when you feel uncomfortable.
  • Parents trust your gut. If you are uncomfortable in a company, definitely your child will be.
  • Parents can tell stories related to sex education to their children which they can relate to. You know your child better. No flyer or poster can convey message better than you!
  • Pre-screening of all people working with Children (at home/school/day-care, Juvenile centres etc.).
  • Talk about the abuse. Tell your child what happened isn’t he/she fault.

Know your Legal Rights:

Protection of Children against sexual Offences Act , POSCO (2012) India.

  • The said Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and defines different forms of sexual abuse.
  • The said Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
  • The act incorporates child friendly procedures for mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.

 

‘We all must bring our own light to the darkness’ – Charles Bukowski

Sheetal Zaroo

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