Child abuse in India is usually a hidden phenomenon especially when it takes place at home or by relatives. Focus with regards to abuse has generally been in the more public domain such as child marriage, child labor, prostitution, etc. Intra-family abuse or abuse that takes place in institutions such as schools or government homes has received very less attention. This could be possible due to the Indian family structure and children’s role in this structure.
Here’s an overview of child abuse in India:
– 53.22% or every second child reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
– Out of the total child respondents, 20.90% were subjected to severe forms of sexual abuse that involved sexual assault, making the child fondle private parts, making the child exhibit private body parts and being photographed in the nude. Out of these 57.30% were boys and 42.70% were girls. Over one-fifth of these children faced more than three forms of sexual abuse.
– Out of the total child respondents, 50.76% were subjected to other forms of sexual abuse that included forcible kissing, sexual advances made during travel and marriages and exposure to pornographic material. Out of these 53.07% were boys and 46.93% were girls. Over 50% faced more than two forms of sexual child abuse.
– 50% abusers are persons known to the child or in a position of responsibility and trust. Most children do not report the matter to anyone.
– Children on the street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
It must be noted that most cases of child abuse in India go unreported and thus, there’s no action taken against them.
While rape is seen as a serious offence under the Indian Penal Code, the law was deficient in punishing and recognizing other sexual offences, like sexual harassment, child pornography and stalking, for which prosecutors had to depend on imprecise provisions such as “outraging the modesty of a woman”. Identifying the problem, the government introduced POCSO to check rampant child sexual abuse through less ambiguous and stricter legal provisions, championed the introduction of a specific law to address this offence. The law addresses crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.