(The Quint is supporting #ProtectOurChildren, an initiative by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, to find lasting solutions to the problem of Child Sexual Abuse. A group of NGOs, activists, school principals, parents and survivors of child sexual abuse are coming together for an Open House event titled ‘Why we need to start talking about Child Sexual Abuse and Protect Our Children’ on the 30th of November, at the Constitution Club of India. Participants include NGOs like HAQ Centre for Child Rights & RAHI foundation, Child Law expert Swagatha Raha from National Law School, Bengaluru, Preethi Herman from Change.org and various public figures, some of whom voice their concerns with The Quint. At the end of the deliberations, the Open House aims to arrive at a consensus to frame a roadmap and find solutions to curb the menace of Child Sexual Abuse.)
Child Sexual Abuse, a severe form of violence that damages the psyche of a child, is taking epidemic proportions in India. Studies show that India is home to the highest number of sexually abused children in the world and 90 per cent of the perpetrators are known to the child.
A Bangalore-based, former wife of a French Diplomat wrote a poignant letter to the UN Commission of Women spelling the horror that she underwent when she discovered that her husband was sexually abusing their four-year-old daughter.
In the month of June, 2012 I took my three year old daughter to a gynaecologist, who also happens to be a member of Enfold Proactive Health Trust (an organization which has a lot of experience in the field of child sexual abuse) following my daughter’s complaints of pain in her genital areas.The doctor, after speaking to my daughter for over an hour in my presence, informed me that my daughter was being sexually abused by my husband and her father.
The Police’s response to her complaint against her husband was “shocking”, she says.
The response of the Police Authorities however was surprisingly lackadaisical. At first they did not even want to register my complaint.
Despite producing medical evidence of sexual assault and rape, the local Police insisted that the four-year-old survivor took the tests again at a government hospital. She was also subjected to the controversial “two-finger” test.
My daughter who was barely 3 years 9 months screamed during the ordeal.
The police’s apathy was beyond comprehension for her.
The police took a highly confrontational stand with me, accusing me of trying to frame my husband. I was questioned like an accused for over 4 hours with video camera and over 7 police officers in the room. At the end of this interrogation, false statements were prepared in my name and signed by the Investigative Officer
She spoke to The Quint about the trauma that she and her daughter had to go through while dealing with the authorities.
Why would a four-year-old be tested for virginity and hymen intactness? Are we not subjecting the child to a repeat instance of assault, simply to prove that she has been sexually abused.
The mother then goes on to describe the insensitivity of the investigating office:
The Investigative Officer then proceeded to touch my daughter on different parts of her body and ask her, “Did your father touch you here? Did your father touch you here? “The whole interview lasted only about twenty-five minutes. He then made a statement that the “child loves her father and misses him” and included this in the chargesheet.
Statistics prove that India is draconian for its children. Almost 53% of our children are subjected to some sort of sexual abuse.
Every two hours, a child under 16 years is raped in India. A child under 10 years is raped every 13th hour. Abuse is not gender specific — boys are as susceptible to abuse as girls. However, there are fewer cases of male child sexual abuse that get reported.
Children are precious. It is not enough to demand new laws in the protection of women and children if the implementation process is so blatantly corrupt, prejudiced and insensitive.The survivor’s mother adds
Let us all take a pledge to #ProtectOurChildren.