HYDERABAD: DID you know that more boys fall victim to child sexual abuse than girls? According to a 2007 study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, 53.2 per cent children have faced sexual abuse at some point in their life and 52.9 per cent among them are boys. Even on Sunday, one case was reported from Andhra Pradesh where a 15-year-old boy was allegedly raped by a 45-year-old woman. The teenager, as per news reports, did not report the crime until his mom found out about it.
Experts say cases of boys being sexually abused are grossly under-reported as many people do not identify this as abuse. This is because from an early age men receive the message that they should never appear to be vulnerable or weak, say some experts, adding that the idea that men cannot be victims is central to gender socialisation.
In Hyderabad, the number of cases which have been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act are approximately 250. This number includes cases reported prior to the setting up of Bharosa centre. However, the number of boys who have been victimised is negligible, say officials at the Bharosa centre.
“People are still unaware of the fact that even boys can be victims,” says Additional Commissioner of Police (Crimes) Shikha Goel. “When it comes to appointing care givers for boys, most parents do not take the same precaution they would take in the case of girls. They are often under the impression that nothing can happen to them as they are boys. But that is not the truth,” she said.
A few cases came to light in the recent past, where a head of a Madrassa was caught for sexually assaulting male children. In another case, a 42-year-old was convicted under the POCSO act for abusing a 7th grade boy and was sentenced to three years in jail and Rs 5000 as fine. Unless the crime is extremely violent, most parents and care givers do not bring the issue to light, added Goel.
On the other hand, there is very low level of awareness among people regarding the aspect, informed Spandana Sadashivuni, a public prosecutor who takes up cases of women and children.
“Awareness about CSA is increasing, but then everyone is only being extra cautious and careful about girls. It needs to be highlighted that both boys and girls can be victims of CSA. Prevention should be the larger focus,” she said.