Bangalore rape throws light on child abuse in India

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Protest breaks out in Bangalore over rape on class I student in her school
The recent horrific incident of the gangrape of a 7-year-old-student in school premises on July 17 in East Bangalore has brought back light on one of the worst perils that our country is facing today - child sexual abuse.

In India, this sensitive issue has been long ignored. But time and again, incidents remind us of making laws more stringent. Though, recommendations of Justice Verma Commission Report which was appointed to address the issue after Nirbhaya episode were followed and several changes were made in rape laws. Still, such cases are increasing with the passing day. Every day or another cases related to child abuse make headlines.

The rape of a first class student in Vibgyor High School in Bangalore is most recent one to the long list of child abuse cases many of which remains unnoticed.

In march, 2013, a 7-year-old girl was raped inside school in Mangolpuri area on Delhi.

In January, 2012, Paul Francis Meekan, the British headmaster of Trio World School in Bangalore, was arrested for allegedly sending vulgar messages through a social networking website to one of his boy students.

Last month, the owner and manager of a children's boarding school was arrested on charges of raping five minors in Maharashtra. The 52-year-old owner of the Chandraprabha Charitable Trust also forced the minors to watch pornographic films and act them out with one another.

In November, 2013, A 13-year-old girl was allegedly raped repeatedly by Ashwin Tabrekar, a software engineer from Hulimavu. She was his wife's niece.

14 children go missing every day in Delhi:

According to the NGO, Child Rights and You (CRY), on an average 14 children go missing every day in the Capital. According to a reply to an RTI plea filed by a CRY and Alliance for People's rights (APR), 4,086 children went missing in 2012 while 2,161 and 5,004 children in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

A majority of India's 440 million children are subjected to some form of sexual abuse, say reports.

According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007, two out of three children face physical abuse, and 42 per cent of children face sexual abuse in some form. According to Asian Centre for Human Rights, number of reported child rapes had gone up from 2,113 in 2001 to 7,112 in 2011.

In 2007, a report on the state of child protection issued in India prompted then Government to take stringent action in this direction. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights was set up to develop strict laws and policies on the issue.

Major findings by Ministry of Women and Child Development on child abuse:

The major findings of Ministry of Women and Child Development study on child abuse in India which was conducted with the help of UNICEF are as follows:

a) Across different forms of abuse, the younger children (5-12 years of age) have reported higher levels of abuse.

b) Boys, as compared to girls, are equally at risk of abuse.

c) Fifty per cent abuses are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.

d) Seventy per cent of abused child respondents never reported the matter to anyone.

440 million children in India subjected to some form of sexual abuse

e) 53.22 per cent children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.

The study has provided startling statistics on the extent and magnitude of various forms of child abuse which has by and large remained unexplored.

Experts put that laws and policies are in place, the need is to systemically implement them. The first and foremost thing towards addressing the situation is its acknowledgement. As parents, institutions or policy makers, we are not ready to acknowledge that child abuse is stark reality. Children must be made aware that it could happen anywhere to anyone. Our Constitution guarantees rights meant specifically for children. But merely talking about these rights will not solve the problem. The only way we can fight with the problem by recognising it and not by burying it.

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