On 18th July 2017, the Supreme Court rejected the plea of a 10-year-old rape survivor to undergo an abortion. It was alleged that she had been repeatedly raped by her 55-year-old maternal uncle. Latest reports reveal she could have been exploited by others.
A seven-year-old boy was found murdered with his throat slit at Ryan International School in Gurgaon on September 8. These two are just a few of the many cases that have raised the question of safety of children in society.
A survey sponsored by Women and Child Development ministry and carried out by the NGO Prayas in association with Unicef and Save the Children, found that over 50% children in India were subjected to one or another form of physical abuse. Contrary to belief, the survey showed that among children, more boys are abused physically than girls. And what's the most shocking of all, in 94.8 percent of cases, children were raped by someone known to them, according to data collected by the National Crime Records Bureau.
Here are some pointers from the NCRB statistics
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of child abuse cases registered under Prevention of Sexual Offences Against Children (POCSO) Act.rose from 8,904 in the year 2014 to 14,913 in 2015 .
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan top the list. In 2016, it was for the first time that the NCRB has spoken on the relationship between victim and accused in rape cases.
Uttar Pradesh led the highest number of child abuse cases with 3,078 followed by Madhya Pradesh with 1,687 cases, Tamil Nadu with 1,544 cases, Karnataka with 1,480 cases and Gujarat by 1,416 cases, POCSO said.
RAHAT, a program by Majlis Law to provide socio-legal support to survivors of sexual assault so that survivors are not traumatised in the course of investigation and prosecution, found out during a study of 644 cases which they handled in Mumbai, that 51 percent of the victims were between 11 years and 18 years old.
Who are the perpetrators?
A recent study by RAHAT reported that in Mumbai, 91% of cases involved a parent as the perpetrator of long term sexual abuse.
Neighbours are also a big threat; according NCRB data on cases registered under POCSO in 2015, in 3,149 cases registered, that is 35.8 percent of the cases, the person next door was the perpetrator.
In over 10 percent of cases last year, children were subjected to rape by their own family members or relatives.
Experts in the field of mental health and child abuse say perpetrators are seemingly normal like any of us and they are living in our homes.
According to the data for 2015, in 488 cases, the victim was raped by either his/her grandfather, father, brother or son. Close family members were the offenders in 891 cases and relatives in 1,788 cases.
Why do the perpetrators choose children as targets?
Most offenders are usually regular sex offenders who think they might just get away with the crime. According to psychologists and counsellors, children are an easy target and hence are more vulnerable.
Many child abuse cases go unreported because the victim is traumatised and therefore reluctatn to confide in anyone. In a majority of the cases, the family of the victim may not want to confront the abuser if he or she is an influential family member or an influential person in society, for the fear of backlash or shame.
Child sexual abusers often develop a relationship with the child, to manipulate him or her into compliance with the sexual act. These perpetrators are often characterised as exhibiting poor social skills, having feelings of inadequacy or loneliness, or being passive in relationships.