“Child Sexual Abuse” also known as “Child Molestation” is a form of abuse where children are being used for sexual stimulation. If any adult or older adolescent engages in activities like sexual activity with or without asking or pressuring, indecent exposure of child, child grooming and child sexual exploitation all these comes under the definition of Child Sexual Abuse. There are two types of child sexual abuse “Touching and Non touching” child sexual abuse. Touching child sexual abuse means touching a child’s genital or reproductive part or making him or her to touch other’s reproductive or genital part or putting any object or body part inside the reproductive organs of a child is known as Touching child sexual abuse. Non touching child sexual abuse includes showing of genital or reproductive parts to a child, showing pornographic materials, prostituting and child trafficking etc. According to United Nation International Children’s Emergency fund (UNICEF) Child Marriage is also a form of child sexual abuse it is also a form of child sexual exploitation. Child Sexual Abuse can have both short term and long term physical and psychological effect. Mental effects include depression, stress, sleeping disorder, post traumatic stress etc and physical effects include internal injuries, neurological damages etc.
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN INDIA
Children are considered as the future of the country, they are pillars on which the future of our nation stands if we break them the future will crumble and fall that’s why it is utmost important to protect and nourish them. India is home to 1.3 billion people out of which 430 million are children but India is also considered as the country with most child sexual exploitation cases, in India in every 155 children a child gets sexually exploited and according to a survey in 90% cases the one who sexually exploited the child is a known or a trustworthy person to the child. According to a survey conducted by Ministry of Women and Child Development in which around 12500 children participated and more than 53% said that they have been subjected to some form of sexual exploitation. According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 109 children were sexually abused in India daily in 2018 and around 32,608 cases were reported in 2017 and around 39,827 were reported in 2018. State wise Maharashtra recorded highest number of child sexual abuse cases followed by Uttar Pradesh and then Tamil Nadu.
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE DURING THE TIMES OF COVID-19
In the year 2021 a report was released by the “WE PROTECT GLOBAL ALLIANCE”, according to which the online child sexual abuse has reached its highest peak during the times of Covid-19 and according to National Centre for Missing and Exploited children there has been a 106% increase in the child suspected exploitation. There also has been a 77 % increase in the self- generated sexual material as reported by the Internet Watch Foundation. These worrying trends shows that the Legislative bodies and the Judiciary both has failed to prevent and curb this issue and there was another trend observed that is transgender or LGBTQ community people are more likely to get sexually abused online.
PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 2012
“Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act 2012” was passed to provide a set of legal Framework for the protection of children from child sexual exploitation, abuses and harassment. This act is a primary act for the prevention of child sexual abuse which covers variety of offenses such as “Penetrative sexual assault, sexual assault, sexual harassment, child pornography and aggravated sexual assault”. This act also provide for child friendly Criminal Trial process and this act also provides that the police officer should inform the “Child Welfare Committee (CWC)” about each and every case within 24 hours. A person will be appointed by this committee who will support the child and his family and will report them about the progress in the case.
Child Sexual Abuse is not a new social evil, it’s been prevalent in our society since many decades, people are aware of this issue but the cases of child sexual abuse are increasing and the conviction stand low around just 32%. As I mentioned earlier that Child Sexual Abuse has both physical and psychological effect such as depression, stress, neurological damages. The Kathua rape case took 16 to convict the accused whereas POCSO says that the entire trial should be completed in one year. The victim must have gone into so much mental and psychological disorder during such a long tiring criminal trial. In my opinion Judiciary should be steadfast in convicting the accused and the parliament should pass more bills regarding the prevention of child sexual abuse as the POCSO Act also has its own drawbacks. The people are aware of this crime but they are not aware of the laws such as POCSO Act and Juvenile justice Act 2015, it is the duty of government, Courts and NGOs working for the child development to raise awareness regarding the laws and recent amendments. Lastly collective efforts are needed from public, government and the judiciary to prevent Child Sexual Abuse so that we can protect the future of our children and the future of this Country.
Author’s Name: Abhed Shrivastava (NRI Group of Institution, Bhopal)
Child Sexual Abuse in India, Ishita Bhatnagar, https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-4985-child-sexual-abuse-in-india.html
Child Sexual Abuse and Laws in India, Priya Jagadeesh, https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-809-child-sexual-abuse-and-the-law-in-india.html
Child Sexual Abuse during the times of COVID-19, Ramya Kannan, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/covid-19-pandemic-fuelled-rise-in-child-sexual-abuse-online-report/article37098788.ece