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Study Conducted By Kailash Satyarthi’s Foundation Reveals The Devastating Impact Of Sexual Abuse On Children

  • IWB Post
  •  May 9, 2018

The beginning of the year 2018 saw horrendous crimes against children. The Kathua and Unnao rape case drew nation’s attention towards painful cases of child sexual abuse. Children’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi called it a national emergency.

Looking at the “alarming and unstoppable” rise in rape and abuse of children, he even urged the government to devote one day of Parliament to formulate plans for expeditious delivery of justice to the victims. The abuse not only physically affects the children but also mentally crushes them. The effects are adverse. And, so, Satyarthi’s children’s foundation conducted a study with the victims to understand the problem deeply.

The foundation contacted 96 victims and their families, of which only 14 or 15% agreed to participate in the pilot study to assess the psychological impact of child sexual abuse. And out of the 14 families of victims (from eight years to 16 years old) approached for final interaction and interview, two refused to sign the informed consent form.

The study found that the children who have been sexually abused experience a range of psychosocial problems and are affected in devastating and often irreversible ways. “Sexual abuse puts the child in perpetual trauma and shock affecting her/his physical, mental, psychological as well as social well-being and placing her/his overall growth and development in jeopardy,” says the study.

“Such acts can have a devastating and often irreversible impact on young children, and recent trends in India have revealed an urgent need to improve and strengthen the response (at societal, government, legal and judicial levels) to check such crime and offer effective support for survivors,” it added.

Continuous support from the family is extremely important in order to make the child come out of it quicker and stronger. The study shows that children who are sexually abused feel unloved, which points “how the family itself can trigger long-term adverse impact on the survivor’s self-esteem and confidence”. The report also pointed out that in cases where family support was available to the child survivor, they turned out to be confident.

A 17-year-old survivor shared her story where her family’s attitude has completely changed for her. She shared, “Even if they (family members) see me crying they do not stop me nor try to console me. I used to be loved so much before but now things have changed.”

The study reveals that the survivors of child sexual abuse lack confidence, feel alienated, fear going out alone, sense a change in the behaviour of family members. In case of children above 15 years, there is a tendency of self-blame and self-harm.

The report from the study said, “New facets could include losing contact with all friends, finding the social network limited to a minimum and getting handicapped by limited movement in the vicinity of the home.”

It also talks about the experience of the victims and their families with legal and other support systems and says that case pendency and delays are found to be one of the major hurdles in bringing them back to the mainstream. “None of the respondents were found to be happy with this. This is a serious barrier to the nation’s ability to curb such crime, and most of the cases recorded here have been pending in courts as complaints for over two years, even though POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012,) stipulates fast-track justice,” the report points out.

Satyarthi said that a National Child Tribunal (NCT) must be constituted to fast-track the cases of sexual offences against children. He told Hindustan Times, “The current criminal law system we have, we focus so much on the punishment to the offender. But what about the victim who has lost childhood? There is a gap in actual incidents and FIR registration because of stigma. It’s time to focus on the rehabilitation and apart from the survivor the family also needs counselling as their support is very important.”

The child right activist called for all political parties to unite for the cause, with 90,000 cases of the POCSO act pending in courts across the country and only 30% conviction. “There could be hundreds of reasons to divide but there is at least one reason to unite and that is how we can save our children,” Satyarthi said.

According to government figures, a child is sexually abused every 15 minutes in India.


H/T: Hindustan Times

Image used for representational purpose

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